TMJ Syndrome (Temporomandibular Joint)
The temporomandibular joint connects the jawbone to the skull. When it is functioning properly, the bones of the joint allow the mouth to open smoothly and easily. Sometimes, however, there is a misalignment of the teeth or the jaw. In more serious cases, the cartilage that protects the joint wears down. Without cartilage to act as a cushion, the bones rub against each other.
TMJ can be caused by anything that places unusual pressure on the joint. A blow to the jawbone, habitual gum chewing, or poor orthodontic work are all possible factors. But by far the most frequent cause of TMJ is frequent grinding or clenching of the teeth. This seemingly benign habit is usually brought on by stress that causes muscles in the jaw to tighten. Another common underlying cause of TMJ is a structural misalignment of the jaw or teeth (called malocclusion by doctors and dentists) or the cranial or facial bones can be involved. In addition, imbalanced musculature and spinal alignment in other areas of the body can be an underlying root cause of TMJ syndrome. Finally, deficiencies of nutrients such as magnesium can make this problem worse, because muscles tend to spasm and tighten more easily.
No matter what the cause, TMJ is at best uncomfortable and at worst almost unbearably painful. The first sign of a problem may be difficulty opening the mouth all the way or perhaps a popping or clicking sound when yawning or chewing. As the disorder progresses, the jaw muscles will begin to feel tender. This tenderness may develop into an ache or sharp pain, which can spread to the neck, the ears, or the face.
A note of caution: Despite what some doctors or dentists may tell you, TMJ syndrome is real. But there have been many reports of unscrupulous professionals touting "miracle" cures for TMJ in the form of expensive and invasive treatments, including surgery. Before you undergo any aggressive measures, try the gentle home care and relaxation therapies suggested here. Chances are that they'll bring you substantial, if not total, relief. If you try these therapies and still have a great deal of pain, consult with a reputable, qualified specialist-and always, ask for a full explanation of any procedure before you agree to it. Many naturopathic, osteopathic, or chiropractic physicians can help people with TMJ syndrome, using nonsurgical techniques. Acupuncture can also be quite helpful, as can stress-reduction techniques.
** All of these prescriptions below have been proven effective; level of effectiveness depends on the individual. Please consult your doctor when taking any and all supplements.
Prescription for Natural Cures by James F. Balch and Mark Stengler
Prescription #1 Magnesium - LifeSource Product
Take 200 mg two to
three times daily. This mineral relaxes the nervous system and the musculature
around the jaw. Note: Reduce the dosage if loose stools occur.
Prescription #2 Calcium / Magnesium – LifeSource Products - See All of our Cal/Mag Products.
Take 600 mg twice
daily. It works synergistically with magnesium to relax tight muscles. If
taking calcium, this should cover both Calcium and Magnesium at the same
Prescription #3 Kava Kava – Herb Product
Take a standardized
product containing 70 mg of kavalactones three times daily. Kava relaxes the
nervous system and tight muscles. It is also very good for stress and
anxiety. Note: Do not take with alcohol or any psychiatric medication.
Prescription #4 MSM – Methylsulfonylmethane – LifeSource Product
Take 1,000 mg three times daily. MSM reduces muscle spasms and inflammation.
Super Prescrition #5: Homeopathic
Take 3 pellets of
the 6x potency three times daily. This remedy relaxes tight muscles.
Prescription #6 Vitamin B Complex - LifeSource Products – See All of our Vitamin B Products.
Take a 50 mg complex
twice daily to reduce the effects of stress.
Prescription #7 Valerian Root - LifeSource Product
Take 3 ml or 300 mg
three times daily to reduce the effects of stress and relax tight muscles.
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articles and studies for TMJ
- Clicking, popping, or grating noises when chewing or opening the mouth
- Difficulty opening the mouth all the way
- Stiffness, tenderness, or pain in the jaw
- Neck pain
- Facial pain
- An asymmetrical appearance to the face
- Ringing in the ear
- Tooth grinding or clenching (usually, the result of stress or a blood-sugar imbalance)
- Misalignment of the teeth or the jaw
- Poor orthodontia or dental work
- Injuries to the jaw
- Postural problems
- Frequent gum-chewing
- Prolonged thumb-sucking
- Muscle and spinal alignment imbalance
- Nutritional deficiencies (e.g., magnesium, calcium)
If your TMJ syndrome is acute, eat foods that require less chewing or that are not as hard to chew. Examples include soups, stews, steamed or cooked vegetables, and protein shakes. Focus on foods that will stabilize your blood-sugar levels. Vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds, soy products, and fish should be the mainstays of your diet. Instead of eating three large meals, plan on five or six smaller ones through the day. You'll keep your blood sugar in balance and won't be tempted to snack on sweet treats.
Foods to Avoid
Avoid sugary foods like candy, chocolate, sodas, and most baked goods. They disturb blood-sugar levels and contribute to stress.
Stay away from caffeine, which causes muscles to tighten. Tea and coffee are obviously sources of caffeine, but chocolate, some pain-relievers, and over-the-counter cold medications have high amounts as well.
Alcohol has been linked to teeth-grinding. Although a drink or two may seem like a good way to relax, herbal teas are a much wiser choice for people with TMJ.
Don't chew anything that's hard on your jaw. Gum, caramels, bagels, animal meats, and hard or gooey candy are off-limits.
Go on a one- to three-day juice fast to cleanse your body of excess sugars. Support your fast with broths, herbal teas, and vegetable juices. If you must have some fruit juice, dilute it with water first.
Glucosamine sulfate builds cartilage. Take 1,500 mg daily if you have cartilage deterioration in the TMJ.
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products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. As
always, consult your physician before taking any and all supplements.
LifeSource Vitamins. Individual results may vary.
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