TMJ Essential Oils: Do They Help Relieve Jaw Pain?

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Essential oils have become incredibly popular in recent years. As PubMed Health puts it, essential oils are the "chemicals that give a plant its 'essence.'" They contribute to a plant's scent or flavor. You might have a friend or acquaintance who sells oils or you might have heard of several companies that offer them. They're popping up in yoga studios, health food stores and more for a variety of uses.

TMJ essential oils are just one example of the ways people use oils for health and wellness. But will they help you get relief from jaw pain? Learn more, including how oils may help TMJ symptoms and if there are any risks involved in using them.

How Do TMJ Essential Oils Help?

People use essential oils to attempt to cure or treat ailments. They can be used as part of aromatherapy (meaning the scent of the oil is inhaled), applied to the skin, or in rare cases, ingested.

As the University of Minnesota points out, a fair amount of anecdotal evidence suggests that essential oils are helpful, but there have not been many published scientific research studies that show that it helps with issues such as TMJ.

That said, several types of essential oils are thought to help ease the symptoms of TMJ disorder. For example, peppermint oil and lavender oil are often used to reduce the pain and inflammation associated with TMJ disorder. As the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) notes, people often apply lavender oil to the skin to ease pain, stress and anxiety. The NCCIH also notes that topical peppermint oil can be used to relieve muscle aches, tension headaches and gastrointestinal upset.

What to Know Before Trying Essential Oils

There are a few things you should know before you decide to try using essential oils to ease any TMJ symptoms. One thing worth knowing is that not all essential oils are created equal. Purity is a big area of concern when it comes to selecting oils. Some brands are cut with less expensive ingredients, such as vegetable oil or synthetic ingredients. Using an essential oil that isn't pure oil might increase your risk of an allergic reaction, or it might just mean that the oil won't work as well as you expect it to.

Although you do want to choose an essential oil that's pure and 100 percent oil, some essential oils may be stronger than other oils. For example, oregon oil is a very strong and potent essential oil and should be diluted with a quality carrier oil, such as fractionated coconut oil which is a neutral pH. This neutral pH will not alter the chemical makeup of the essential oil. The University of Minnesota suggests diluting essential oils to a concentration of about 1 percent for use on the skin. That means using one drop of lavender or peppermint oil with 1 teaspoon of the carrier oil.

Talk to a Doctor

Most importantly, you want to get the all-clear from your dentist, chiropractor or other medical professional before trying any essential oils for TMJ. There is a chance that the oils could interfere with a medication you're taking. Some people also have allergic reactions to oils. Discussing the use of essential oils with your medical and dental team in advance ensures that everyone is on the same page and that any issues can be corrected quickly.

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Top Ways To Alleviate TMD SYMPTOMS

While there is no single cure for TMD, there are different treatments that may reduce your symptoms dramatically. Your dentist may recommend one or more of the following:

  • Medication – trying to eliminate muscle spasm and pain by applying moist heat or taking medication, such as muscle relaxants, aspirin, other over-the-counter pain-relievers or anti-inflammatory drugs.

  • Wear a night guard – reduce the harmful effects of tooth clenching and grinding by wearing a night guard or splint.

  • Relax – learning relaxation techniques to help control muscle tension in the jaw. Your dentist may suggest you seek training or counseling to help eliminate stress.