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Temporomandibular disorder (TMD), which used to be called temporomandibular joint (TMJ) can cause significant pain in the jaw, popping and clicking of the jaw, headaches or migraines, and overall discomfort. Since so many are afflicted with TMD, much research has been done to alleviate symptoms. Though many treatments for TMD focus on dental and medical intervention, many health plans in the US specifically exclude medical or dental health coverage for TMD treatments. To help people who may not have access to medical or dental treatment, many doctors now recommend a variety of home remedies for TMD.
One of the first and foremost home remedies for TMD is helping the person be aware of sleeping position. If you are a side or stomach sleeper, it’s time to change to sleeping on your back. Side sleeping tends to facilitate the grinding of teeth and reinforce bad jaw, neck and shoulder alignment. To help avoid side sleeping, you might want to pin a shoulder pad on the outside of your sleepwear, on the side you tend to sleep on. Usually this will discourage turning on your side in the middle of the night. Note that pregnant women should not sleep on their backs, especially in the later stages of pregnancy.
Poor body positioning during the day can make TMD symptoms worse. Another of the home remedies for TMD is to do body posture checks during the day. Be sure to check yourself especially when you’re eating. Slumping when you’re eating can increase jaw pain.
Many of the home remedies for TMD are based on alleviating tension in the body. A tense body, and a tense person, often suffers more from TMD pain. To this end, it can help to reduce things in the diet that are natural tension producers, particularly caffeine. If you need your morning cuppa to get going, consider eliminating coffee or soda drinking after 10 AM so your body will become more relaxed throughout the day.
Breathing exercises, relaxation techniques, and contemplative exercises like yoga and Tai Chi can help further relax. Exercises of these types are especially helpful as home remedies for TMD. They focus on good posture, aligning the spine and correcting standing and sitting in tensed up poses.
One of the plain and simple home remedies for TMD is to merely apply ice to the jaw; frozen washcloths work very well for this, for about 10-15 minutes, several times a day. Icing the forehead during headaches caused by TMD can be helpful to some. Some doctors recommend that you treat TMD as you would any injury to the body, and suggest not only icing as one of the home remedies for TMD, but also eating soft foods for a few days, avoiding hard chew foods like nuts and chips, and restricting yawns to minimal opening of the mouth.
Of all the home remedies for TMD, relaxation at different times of the day plays the most important role. Many physicians and dentists emphasize the great importance of getting into “relaxation mode” about an hour before going to sleep. Instead of using this last part of the day to do chores, you might instead read from good book, take a nice warm bath, or practice meditative breathing. The more successful you can be at relaxing before bedtime, the less likely you’ll end up grinding your teeth or tensing up your jaw at night. This can translate to less pain when you wake up in the morning.
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