Nutrition in Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ)
The human temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a complex structure that allows us to move our jaw. The TMJ is made up of the temporal bone (the side of the head) and the mandible (the lower jaw). There are muscles, ligaments, and a disk of cartilage that act as a cushion between the bones. The TMJ is a weight-bearing joint and is subject to a lot of stress. This can lead to problems with the joint, such as pain, clicking, and popping.
There are many factors that can contribute to TMJ disorders, such as:
– Teeth grinding (bruxism)
– Misaligned teeth
– Jaw trauma
– Dentures that don’t fit properly
Nutrition plays an important role in the health of the TMJ. A diet that is high in inflammatory foods can worsen the symptoms of TMJ disorders. Inflammatory foods include:
– Refined carbohydrates (white bread, pastries)
– Processed meats (hot dogs, lunch meats)
– Trans fats (fried foods, vegetable shortening)
– Excess sugar (soda, candy)
It is important to eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish and flaxseed oil, can help to reduce inflammation.
There are also some specific nutrients that can help to support the health of the TMJ:
– Vitamin C: helps to build collagen, which is the main protein in the disk of cartilage that cushions the TMJ
– Vitamin B6: needed for the proper function of muscles and nerves
– Magnesium: helps to relax muscles and reduce inflammation
– Calcium: needed for strong bones and healthy connective tissue
– Omega-3 fatty acids: as mentioned above, these can help to reduce inflammation
In addition to eating a healthy diet, there are other lifestyle changes that can help to reduce the symptoms of TMJ disorders.
– Avoiding clenching and grinding your teeth
– Practicing relaxation techniques
– Exercising regularly
– Wearing a mouth guard at night if you grind your teeth
– Avoiding chewing gum
– Avoiding chewy and hard foods
Herbs that may help:
Some people also find relief from TMJ disorders with herbs. Here are some of the most commonly used herbs for TMJ:
Ginger is a well-known herbal remedy for many types of pain, including TMJ pain. It is thought to work by reducing inflammation and muscle spasms. To use ginger for TMJ, you can take it in capsule form or make a ginger tea by simmering fresh ginger in water for 10 minutes. You can also massage the affected area with ginger oil.
Turmeric is another herb with anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. It is often used for arthritis, but it can also be helpful for TMJ pain. To use turmeric for TMJ, you can take it in capsule form or make a turmeric tea by simmering fresh turmeric in water for 10 minutes. You can also massage the affected area with turmeric oil.
Feverfew is an herb that has been used for centuries to treat headaches. It is thought to work by reducing inflammation. To use feverfew for TMJ, you can take it in capsule form or make a feverfew tea by simmering dried feverfew in water for 10 minutes. You can also massage the affected area with feverfew oil.
Willow bark is the bark of the willow tree and has been used for centuries to treat pain. It contains a compound called salicin, which is similar to aspirin. To use willow bark for TMJ, you can take it in capsule form or make a willow bark tea by simmering dried willow bark in water for 10 minutes. You can also massage the affected area with willow bark oil.