In this post, you’ll learn about my own struggles with TMJ and how to fix TMJ.
I’ve had TMJ for 10 years and have searched endlessly on how to fix TMJ. Out of all this trial-and-error, I found a couple of methods that have really helped in relieving TMJ pain.
Whether they’re meant for providing relief or curing it for good, I’ve happily learned that a TMJ cure is very possible. Nonetheless, getting relief from TMJ all depends on you and what your body responds to.
Let’s get into all the various TMJ treatments I’ve tried over the years and which ones worked the best in the hopes that one of these methods will help you learn how to cure TMJ permanently.
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What is TMJ?
TMJ is an acronym for temporomandibular (tem-puh-roe-man-DIB-u-lur) joint (TMJ). This is the joint that connects your jaw to the temporal bones of your skull, located in front of each ear.
Because of this hinge, you can move your jaw up and down and side to side, which enables you to do things like talk and chew.
Problems that involve the TMJ is called a temporomandibular disorder (TMD), which usually includes pain in the jaw joint and the surrounding muscles that control the movement of the jaw.
Note: Most people refer to the disorder as TMJ, instead of the correct term TMD, which is a-ok! For the purposes of this post, we’ll also be referring it to the more popular term, TMJ.
What causes TMJ?
There is no exact knowledge of what causes TMJ.
Dentists believe that it’s from problems with the jaw muscles or parts of the joint, but from personal experience and speaking with others about it, it seems as though for many people that stress is usually a huge cause for it.
Injuries to the joint or surrounding areas, grinding or clenching and arthritis can also be causes of TMJ.
What are TMJ symptoms?
TMJ symptoms vary from person to person depending on the severity of the disorder, but they may include one or more of the following:
- Pain in the face, jaw joint area, neck, shoulders, ears and head
- Inability to open your mouth wide
- Feeling that the jaw gets stuck when trying to open it
- Clicking or popping sound when opening and closing your mouth
- Inability to chew food easily
- Swelling on the side of your face
- Feeling that your upper teeth and lower teeth do not align
- Muscle stiffness in the jaw
I used to personally get TMJ symptoms so bad that it would hurt my neck and shoulder and cause nerve pain around my eyes. I’ve been able to minimize these symptoms to only have jaw stiffness on some days.
Learning the many ways on how to fix TMJ helped me learn that there is no one treatment for this persistent problem. Keep reading to section ‘What are the best ways in relieving TMJ pain?‘
Why is relieving TMJ pain so hard to do?
If you’ve failed again and again in relieving TMJ pain, you’re not the only one.
TMJ is hard to cure because of a variety of reasons:
- The underlying cause is unknown so it’s not easy to treat the root cause.
- The joint is complicated so it may be hard to find an effective treatment.
- The mouth is constantly being used so there is little to no room for healing from rest.
- The muscle around the jaw is one of the strongest in the body so it’s not easy to relieve tension in the jaw.
What are the best ways in relieving TMJ pain?
1. Wear a mouth guard while you learn how to fix TMJ for good.
While you learn how to fix TMJ for good, above anything, I recommend getting a custom mouth guard that you can make at home to save hundreds (compared to when getting a similar one from the dentist).
A mouth guard helps minimize the effects of grinding and clenching. It adds a little bit of space between your teeth, which will alleviate the pain and muscle tightness that comes with TMJ. It also protects your teeth from wearing away.
Before I used a mouth guard, I used to get intense headaches during the day and wasn’t able to chew foods, even soft ones, but now it’s been minimized to light jaw tension that doesn’t impact my day.
For the past six years, I’ve been using this DIY mouth guard that’s exactly like the one I used to get from the dentist but at the third of a price!
Yup, my first dentist charged me $400 for this TMJ mouth guard and my second dentist charged me $600! Since then, I’ve been making it myself at home with this professional kit for one-third of the price.
2. Go to a TMJ Physical Therapist
I had no idea that a TMJ physical therapist existed until my general practitioner recommended me to see one.
What my physical therapist did was a combination of dry-needling the muscles around TMJ and giving those muscles an intense massage for TMJ.
Getting TMJ pain relief with my physical therapist was super painful during it but definitely improved the intensity of my TMD. The more I went, the more relief I had.
3. Get Botox
When learning how to fix TMJ, I kept getting recommended botox for TMJ and I didn’t want to do it but I caved after not being able to deal with it.
This popular option for TMJ involves getting botox in the muscles surrounding the joint. It’s supposed to weaken the muscle around the joint creating less TMJ symptoms.
Note: I tried this and found no relief from TMJ. I still wanted to share it with you just in case it would work for you because I’ve read many accounts that it helps people find TMJ relief.
4. Meditate, the Best At Home Treatment for TMJ
The most helpful thing for relieving TMJ pain has surprisingly been to meditate. This means for me that learning how to fix TMJ really involved getting to the root of my stress and/or anxiety.
While wearing a mouthguard and going to a TMJ physical therapist were the most helpful treatments, meditating is the one thing that made it go away completely! It was definitely the best at home treatment for TMJ. It works better than daily massages.
In the weeks that I continually meditated daily, my TMJ were practically nonexistent. I even stopped going to the physical therapist because meditation had helped it so much.
Now that I’ve stopped meditating so consistently, my jaw is starting to feel tough and sore again so… note-to-self: start that meditation practice!
How to Meditate the Simple Way
I know that meditating can be tough for people, including myself, so here’s my tips:
Meditate first thing in the morning so it’s “out of the way” and there’s no obligations throughout the day that’ll keep pushing it off.
Set a timer for 10 minutes, and breathe deeply in and out.
While you breathe in, think out loud “I’m breathing in” and while you breathe out, think out loud “I’m breathing out”. If you find yourself thinking of something else, think “I’m breathing in/out” loudly again, which will return you back to your breath.
Keep breathing until that timer goes off! Trust that you set the timer and it will go off so there’s no reason to stop breathing before that.
5. At Home Remedies for TMJ
The more generic advice to anyone with jaw pain is to follow these at home remedies for TMJ:
- stop chewing gum,
- eat softer foods,
- avoid extreme jaw movements (like opening your mouth wide to seemingly stretch the muscles; this can make it worse)
- and apply an ice pack on the cheeks.
I personally like to use a Gua Sha massaging tool to massage out the muscles around my joint daily.
6. Face Yoga
Even though I’ve already proven that meditating is the answer for me, I still like to try new things since I’m bad at meditating continually.
I just discovered this Face Yoga video and will try this out. Thought I’d add it here just in case it’s something you’d want to try. Let me know if it works for you!
Note: Most sites for TMJ relief say that exaggerated mouth movements should be avoided. She uses an exaggerated movement here so listen to your body!
What are good resources for learning how to fix TMJ permanently?
If you want to learn how to fix TMJ permanently, I’d definitely look into the options above, but more so, talk to your doctor about this.
Finding a permanent cure for TMJ depends on your lifestyle and what’s causing it so you may need to go to the dentist, physical therapist and perhaps even a psychologist to help you find a cure.
Is surgery a good option for relieving TMJ pain?
Some people’s TMJ pain get so bad that they opt for surgery.
There are few types of TMJ surgeries such as the the most popular one, Arthrocentensis, to the more intensive one, Open-joint surgery.
These surgeries vary in success rates and healing time. Read more about them here.
All of the doctors and health specialists I’ve worked with has never offered surgery as an option because they don’t think it’s a good idea since not everyone experiences relief from surgery.
Nonetheless, you and your doctor know your medical history the best so you can ask them about this if none of the at-home and health specialist type of care works for you.
If you were to take away anything from my personal experience with TMJ, it would be to wear a mouthguard at night (or even during the day if your clenching is that bad) and meditate daily.
I hope my personal tried-and-tested methods helps you learn more about how to fix TMJ. Comment below if you have another way on how to cure TMJ permanently that you’ve heard about or currently testing!