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TMJ Disorders Require a Holistic Treatment Approach

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Do you suffer from jaw, head, and/or neck pain due to excessive teeth grinding, jaw popping and clenching?  If not, then most likely, you know somebody who does.  These ailments happen to be a much more widespread than people realize.  Those who suffer from these conditions often do not even realize that they are grinding and clenching their teeth, since they mostly do it while sleeping.  Although most people are familiar with the term TMJ, it’s frequently used incorrectly.  The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the small, delicate joint that connects the jaw to the skull and allows you to open your mouth, chew, and speak.  TMJ is a joint, not a disorder. Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD, also known as TMJ disorders) refer to a range of conditions and problems that can affect the functionality of the TMJ and the muscles around it.  The TMJ can be damaged by an injury, infection, inflammation, or overuse (such as excessive grinding, clenching or chewing).  This can cause jaw problems such as misalignment, headaches, and ear, neck and jaw pain. Studies show that TMJ disorders affect 10 to 15 percent of adults, peaking between the ages of 20 and 40.  However, only about five percent seek treatment.

A recent consensus study by the National Academies of Medicine was released to assess the public health implications of TMD research, care, and education.  This report concluded that many patients suffering from TMD / TMJ disorders have been abandoned or harmed by outdated and invasive treatments.  The lack of collaboration among professionals in the healthcare community and a failure to understand the true causes of TMD / TMJ disorders has led to misjudgments in properly treating patients.  In an effort to advance effective treatments for TMD / TMJ disorders, the research committee has stressed the importance of a multidisciplinary approach coordinated by medicine, dentistry and physical therapy.  In the past, TMD / TMJ disorders have been primarily treated as dental issues, but this report reveals that there are biosocial components that must be considered.  Biosocial refers to behavior influenced by social or environmental factors.  This suggests a more holistic approach to treatment involving physical therapy, stress management, behavior modification, and self-care. Improvements and advancements need to be made in the areas of awareness, assessment, underlying issues, education, TMJ pain relief and treatment.

While TMJ disorders are conditions that cause improper functioning of the jaw and pain in the surrounding muscles and joint, bruxism is defined as the excessive grinding or clenching of the teeth.  Bruxism can occur during the day but is more common while sleeping at night. It can either cause TMJ disorders or evolve as a result of TMJ disorders.  One in three people suffer from bruxism. There has been a significant rise in brux behaviors, which has been linked to stress and anxiety since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.  With the recent economic and social uncertainty as well as political turmoil, it is no wonder that more people are developing stress-related habits.  In fact, dentists have reported an increase in the number of patients with tooth fractures, attributed to bruxism.  Bruxism also causes tooth wear, plugged ears, neck pain, and premature aging of the face.  Besides stress, there are other potential causes including posture, sleeping issues, inability to relax, misaligned teeth and diet. One of the most common treatments for bruxism is the use of a nightguard.  While night guards protect teeth, they do not fix the underlying problems and can promote teeth grinding and clenching. In order to address the behavior and underlying causes of bruxism, a more holistic treatment approach is needed.  Dentists, chiropractors, psychologists, physical therapists, massage therapists, holistic practitioners, aestheticians, and orofacial and craniofacial specialists can all play a role in the collaborative treatment of patients with bruxism.

  Holistic treatments for TMJ disorders and bruxism include relaxation techniques, meditation, exercise, jaw and tongue repositioning, massage therapy and topical pain relief treatments.  For example, physical therapists or massage therapists can teach patients to properly massage the muscles around their jaws, engage in mouth and jaw exercises, and relax the muscles through breathing techniques.  Psychologists can help patients identify certain cues that trigger bruxism.  In addition to the care given by health professionals, self-care at home is essential for TMJ pain management. Self-care is the practice of taking an active role in one’s own well-being, especially during periods of stress. 

An effective tool in the practice of self-care is an organic OTC medication called TJz Balm.  It is a first-of-its-kind, OTC night-time topical pain relief balm with a hands-free massaging applicator, which effectively relieves pain and soothes the jaw area.  TJ Anapol, the President of TJz Balm, says, “Most OTC topical pain relief products use synthetic chemical ingredients that can be harmful to the skin.  However, TJz Balm is made with high-quality, organic and 100 percent botanical ingredients that gently soothe the delicate areas around the jaw, neck, and behind the ears.”  The ingredients in TJz Balm include lavender, ginger, camphor and jojoba seed oil.  With its innovative massaging applicator, TJz Balm gently, yet effectively relieves pain in the muscles and joints and moisturizes the skin. The lavender aroma is relaxing and may help promote sleep when applied at bedtime.

The president of TJz Balm, TJ Anapol, is a manufacturing engineer in the Columbia MBA program.  TJ and his mom, a Cornell graduate and nutritional biochemist, created this product through a mission to help their own family as well as others who suffered with jaw pain and bruxism.  Their passion for healthy living and organic ingredients came together in their kitchen as they created TJz Balm to relieve pain as well as keep skin soft and healthy.  The primary mission of TJz Balm is not only to offer topical pain relief as part of a holistic approach, but also to raise awareness and promote education for those who suffer with pain from teeth grinding and jaw clenching.   

TJz Balm should be used in conjunction with other treatments like night guards, which protect teeth.  Doctor Utsav Patel, D.D.S., of Family Dental Center in Port Chester, NY says, “With TJz Balm, we have a new OTC solution to alleviate the symptoms of TMJ disorder and bruxism.  While night guards protect teeth from being damaged by grinding and clenching, they do not treat the underlying joint and muscle tension that causes TMJ pain.  When night guards are used in combination with TJz Balm, both the teeth and muscles are protected.” 

Developing a bedtime routine focusing on relaxation to promote positive and healthy behaviors is essential for alleviating the symptoms of TMJ disorders and bruxism.  People who suffer with teeth grinding and clenching also need to increase their awareness of their mouth and jaw positioning in order to start retraining their brains to decrease brux behaviors.  TJ Anapol says, “TJz Balm works effectively when properly massaged into the jaw at bedtime. Other activities such as stretching, breathing techniques, and meditation can also help.”  He adds, “Being conscious of your teeth and tongue positions are important.  The tongue should be on the roof of the mouth with teeth slightly separated and lips gently touching.”  The TJz Balm website also includes informative blogs that offer helpful suggestions like jaw exercises, soft food recipes, healthy sleeping tips, and updates about TMJ disorders and bruxism.  In the true spirit of helping others, TJz Balm is dedicated to improving the quality of life for those who suffer from these painful conditions.  

For more information, visit https://tjzbalm.com and follow @tjzbalm on Instagram and Facebook. 

With experience as a full-time environmentalist and part time journalist, Lisa heads the post of editor at California Herald. She covers all the significant proceedings in the world of Environment while editing all the news pieces posted over the website to ensure everything aligns with the journalistic format.

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