TMJ Syndrome – Naturopathic Solutions

  • Tara Andresen

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TMJ (aka. Temporomandibular Joint) Syndrome affects the joint that connects the jaw to the skull and allows the mouth to open and close. TMJ syndrome refers to joint dysfunction that occurs with misalignment of the jaw. TMJ can be caused by anything that puts pressure on the joint. This can include a blow to the jaw, habitual gum chewing and poor orthodontic work, however, the most frequent cause is grinding or clenching of the teeth. This benign habit is often triggered by stress that causes the muscles of the jaw to tighten. Over time, trigger points form in the jaw muscles and this can lead to pain and discomfort. In addition to jaw pain, there may be clicking, popping or grating noises when the mouth is opened as well as difficulty opening the mouth. Other symptoms include neck pain, earache, facial pain, dizziness and ringing in the ears.

While mouth guards can be helpful in some TMJ cases, in other cases, myofascial acupuncture is the better option. This form of acupuncture done by Naturopaths like Dr. Andresen focuses on releasing the trigger points in the muscles to restore proper muscle function and alleviate pain.

In addition to acupuncture, other natural treatment options include dietary changes and in some cases supplementation with relevant vitamins, minerals and herbs. Dietary changes focus on removing foods that require a lot of chewing such as gum, caramels, bagels, animal meats and sticky candies. Softer foods should be consumed more often, including, stews, steamed vegetables and protein shakes.

Your naturopath will likely also recommend supplementation with calcium and magnesium to improve TMJ. Magnesium relaxes the nervous system and muscles around the jaw while calcium works with magnesium to further improve muscle relaxation. In addition, an herb called Kava may be prescribed to further relax the nervous system and tight muscles. It is also very good for stress and anxiety. In some cases, glucosamine may be recommended by your naturopath if there is indication of cartilage degeneration in the joint.

To find out more about TMJ Syndrome, contact your local Naturopath – Dr. Tara Andresen, and book your appointment at one of her downtown Toronto Naturopathic Clinics.