If you suffer from TMJ or even the average, run of the mill jaw pain that comes with a toothache then you don’t always want to run to the medicine cabinet. Medications are great when you absolutely need them but with the side-effects or residual damage that can accumulate over time… well, sometimes you just want to alleviate that pain with something natural. Today we’ll talk about essential oils and herbs for TMJ pain management which you can use to get a little relief without all those harsh chemicals. Let’s start with a little on the TMJ and TMD so that you can know the symptoms and we’ll move on to the natural options from there!
What is TMJ?
TMJ is not a condition but rather, a location in the body. The Temporomandibular joint is a joint which connects the temporal bones of your skull to your jaw. TMD, or Temporomandibular Joint Disorder is a condition associated with the TMJ which equates out as pain in the jaw or facial muscles. Often accompanied by swelling in the face, other symptoms for TMD may include:
- Jaw displacement or ‘locking’
- Pain in the face, ears, and jaw
- Migraine-like headaches
- A popping sound when opening and closing the jaw
- Tenderness in jaw muscles
Typically you are going to want to visit your dentist in order to determine the best treatment. There are different treatments for TMD, such as a mouth guard, relaxation techniques, or even medication, but there are still some things which you can do at home if it is not likely that you will be able to visit the dentist soon. Let’s discuss a few of the options available.
Herbal pain management for TMD
- Turmeric – Mix one teaspoon of Turmeric with one quarter teaspoon of salt. Add half a teaspoon of water and mix it with your finger until it forms the consistency of a paste. Apply this paste to your gums 2- 3 times a day, it’s analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties can help to reduce the pain in your jaw to more manageable levels.
- Capsaicin – The active ingredient in hot peppers, capsaicin is great for assisting with pain management. For a toothache or a sore jaw an easy way to take advantage is a hot sauce, such as Tabasco. Sprinkle a liberal amount on 1/4 piece of sliced bread and bite into it. You can do this on both sides of your mouth if you like but the trick is to keep it in for at least 2-3 minutes to let the capsaicin do its work. Capsaicin can have an ‘overload’ effect on the nerves, numbing out the pain and giving you a little relief. Try this first with a small amount of pepper sauce if you are sensitive, however, as you don’t want to make things worse!
- Mint leaves – Chewing on mint leaves can have a numbing effect that comes with a pleasant taste. Give this a try sometime in conjunction with an icepack, it’s effective and a very pleasant escape from the pain.
Essential oils for TMD
Oils have been used worldwide as alternative medicine for ages, providing natural relief for a number of ailments. Applied directly to the skin or, in this case, most commonly employed as a rinse for combating jaw pain, these remedies might be just what you need. Give one a try and see what you think!
- Peppermint – Peppermint extract can be useful for pain relief in your jaw. Soak a cotton ball in it and place it your mouth just in front of your gums. Within 2 to 3 minutes a soothing coolness will occur and you can use this with an icepack like you did the mint leaves if you like.
- Lavender – Lavender is good for reducing swelling and 4 to 5 drops in half a cup of water makes a powerful rinse that you can use 2 to 3 times a day to help to bring down that pain and ‘puffy’ feeling.
- Clove oil – Good for swelling and pain, clove adds fresh smelling breath into the bargain as well. Try putting 2-3 drops on a cotton ball first to try, however, as the taste can be a little overpowering. That said, this is one of the strongest on the list for pain, so if 2 -3 drops does not bother you then try 6 or 7 on a cotton ball and within a few minutes you should be feeling much better.
” Try obtaining some fresh ginger from your local grocery.”
- Ginger oil – With antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, Ginger oil is one of those tried and true methods that you will find yourself coming back to. If the taste is a bit strong for you then can try obtaining some fresh ginger from your local grocery and boiling a few thin slices in water with honey. Let this mixture sit for 10 – 15 minutes until it becomes a golden color and you can use it as a rinse in this fashion. This also doubles as a tea which will settle your stomach, so consider stocking up on the oil or some fresh ginger for emergencies!
In this article we have explored essential oil and herbal remedies to help to alleviate pain in your Temporomandible Joint. While this is not a substitute for visiting the dentist, these techniques can help you to find a little relief until you can make time for that appointment. Just be sure to sample tiny bits of oils or herbs first to ensure that you aren’t sensitive to them and you’ll have a natural, healthy alternative to over-the-counter medications waiting in your pantry!