What Is TMJ?
Moving your jay is easy enough right? It helps you speak, chew, turn your head, and everything in-between. For most people, all the above actions are routine, effortless and a total breeze. Things are, however, quite tougher for individuals living with temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders. The condition affects muscles and joints that join the jaw to the skull and affects activities such as yawning, chewing, and talking. TMJ causes the joint and muscles affected, to suffer from pain every time there is jaw movement. In most cases too, the pain related to the condition is also temporary and can be reversed either through natural remedies or surgeries.
Causes of TMJ
Before taking a deep dive into some of the solutions for the disorder, it is equally important that you also understand some of the causes for TMJ. The causes of TMD are not fully understood within the medical field. However, there are various risk factors present for the disease. According to professionals within the dentistry field, the initial symptoms for TMJ will have the patient exhibit problems with their jaw muscles, and the surrounding joints. Some of the most common causes for this problem include:
- Injury to the Jaw – is one of the main causes of the TMJ disorder. The condition can arise from an individual suffering trauma to the jaw after an accident.
- Arthritis – might also cause TMJ when it affects the joints and muscles associated with the jaw.
- Stress – has been known to cause various physiological problems within the body. Stress could, thus, be a risk factor when it affects the temporomandibular joint, and related muscles.
- Misalignment of the Teeth or Jaw – could also cause to problems that lead to TMJ
- Poor Posture – while sleeping, especially for side sleepers has also been noted to cause problems with the jaw and the adjacent muscles.
There are multiple symptoms that might follow the TMJ disorder. The main symptom, though, is having pain in the temporomandibular joint, more commonly known as the jaw joint. Other symptoms of TMJ include:
- Pain in the face and or neck
- Stiff jaw muscles
- Limited jaw movement
- Jaw locking
- A click or pop sound of the temporomandibular joint when the jaw moves
- Misalignment of the jaw
The severity of the pain might vary with and individual, from being unbearable in some cases, to being mild and tolerable in others.
The Steps to TMJ diagnosis
The disorder can be difficult to diagnose for no standard test exist for the same. However, should your physician suspect you suffer from the disease, the next step entails referring you to a dentist or an ear, nose and throat specialist to properly diagnose the condition.
In the process of diagnosing the disorder, the doctor might check to see if there’s any tenderness or swelling around the temporomandibular joint. Several imaging tests include:
- X-Rays – To better analyze the jaw
- A CT Scan – To get a better view of the bones and joint tissue
- MRI of the Jaw – to confirm whether there are any problems with the jaw structure.
The attention of a physician is important when the pain or tenderness becomes too much, or when the jaw fails to open up completely. Your MD will then proceed to advice you accordingly, including whether there’s a need to see a specialist.
Remedies to TMJ
One the condition has been accurately diagnosed, there are various remedies that help fix the problem. For most cases, home-remedies are enough to cure the disease. In severe cases, though, surgery might be required to alleviate the pain and fix the problem. Some of the most effective home remedies that doctors have recommended in the past to treat TMJ include:
- Prescription Drugs – there are various over-the-counter drugs that could help with pain and inflammation caused by TMJ. Naproxen is one such drug, and ibuprofen is also a very effective pain remedy. However, the above medication should only be taken under the advice of a doctor.
- Limit your Jaw Movements – for every one of them would strain the jaw further. Activities such as yawning, chewing, yelling and singing that force you to open wide are ill advised.
- Avoid Hard Foods and Chewy Foods – for they cause extreme jaw movements too. Rather than struggle with foods that threaten to pull out a few teeth, look to enjoy softer foods that are easier to chew. The list of options is endless too, from mashed potatoes to cottage soups, scrambled eggs and fish, cooked vegetables and fruits.
- Don’t keep your Teeth Close Together – for having them slightly apart relieves some of the pressure on the jaw. Overly clenching and grinding of the teeth are thus ill advised, when suffering from TMJ and you can avoid the same by placing your tongue between your teeth.
- Make use of Hot and Cold Packs – to relieve the pain on the side of your face and temple area for short periods of time. Ordinarily, 10 minutes per day on the pack offers enough relief for TMJ disorders. At the advice of the dentist or physician, you could also work on having a few jaw stretches too. At the end of every routine, place a warm washcloth or towel on the side of your face for some 5 minutes.
- Adopt Relaxation Techniques – for they help you loosen the jaw. You can also adopt some stress reduction practices for a more complete remedy.
- Avoid Resting your Chin on your Hand – and practice other good posture techniques to reduce strain on your neck and face. To this end, be careful to adopt good sleeping positions, and avoid holding your phone between your ear and shoulder while on a call.
TMJ Pillows and Their Various Benefits
Learning to sleep when suffering from TMJ can be a tall order. One needs to adopt the proper alignment to assist with body posture. With the proper TMJ pillow more comfortable sleep is possible. The pillow helps your body attain the proper posture, while also helping you attain the proper jaw joint positioning and correct airway posture. On the whole, a TMJ pillow helps improve overall well-being and enables comfortable sleep.
A TMJ pillow also helps alleviate some of the pressure on the jaw when you are asleep. Side-sleepers enjoy this benefit especially as sleeping typically entails placing pressure worth 8 – 10 pounds on the very small temporomandibular joint. TMJ might thus be further aggravated when insufficient support is provided by your pillow.
The sleeping position also matters as it helps further reduce the strain suffered by various parts of the head including the neck, face, jaw and shoulders. Adopting the right sleep positions thus helps relieve conditions related to TMJ disorders including orofacial pain, and discomfort.
An optimized sleeping position helps influence various things including:
- Correctly supporting the head and neck
- Relieving the pressure on the neck, head, and shoulders
- Reduces the chances that you clench or grind your teeth
The clearest sign that you need to get yourself a proper TMJ pillow is when you wake up to a headache, or pain around the temporomandibular joint. Doing so will help you take advantage of the above benefits which go a long way towards keeping the TMJ disorder at bay.
While shopping for a good TMJ pillow, you are likely to get a plethora of options to choose from different manufacturers. Consequently, it might take more than a little shopping around to get the best possible options to help alleviate the effects of TMJ disorders. Having the best TMJ pillow for sleeping comes with better support for the joint thus helping reduce some of the pressure on surrounding muscles. The opposite is true, however, as obtaining the wrong pillow could leave your medical condition to escalate from bad to worse rather than give you a chance at fighting the condition and achieving self-healing.
Luckily for you do, we can share with you five of the best TMJ pillows following extensive research, consultations and reviews shared by other TMJ pillow users. Read on to discover the best pillow for someone with TMJ.
1: MARNUR Cervical Pillow Memory Foam Orthopedic Pillow
- Material: Memory Foam
- Sleeper Type: All Sleeper Types
- Firmness Level: High Level Firmness
The above TMJ pillow is high on our list of recommendations due to the multiple benefits it offers to its users. It has also continued to enjoy hundreds of positive reviews from its various users, and this is further proof that I does its job and does it perfectly.
The above option is one of the best pillow for TMJ problems as it is made to fulfil multiple needs from different sleeper types with varied types of TMJ conditions. Its ergonomic design features a cervical curve to give your neck the support it deserves. The shoulders are also well-catered for, as the pillow’s design helps them rest on curves to be found on each side of the pillow. The pillow also comes with two height settings to cater for the personal sleeping habits of a larger group of users.
The pillows different curves and contours also ensure that the needs of various types of sleepers are fully met. Therefore, you could switch the pillow position to better fit your individual sleeping preference, be it side, stomach, or back sleeping.
What’s more, the pillow is made from a dense memory foam that ensures the shape and firmness is well-distributed and firmness is maintained.
- Appropriate for all types of sleepers
- Highly dense memory foam ensures the pillow maintains its shape and firmness
- Helps align the neck and shoulder joints
- Helps to eliminate shoulder pain
- The many pillow settings might be confusing to the user
2: Mkicesky Side Sleeper Contour Memory Foam Pillow
- Material: Memory foam
- Sleeper Type: Side sleepers
- Firmness Level: Middle level firmness
- Special Super Power: It helps tackle snoring
The above TMJ pillow is similarly high in our list of recommendations, especially for sleepers who have sinus issues on top of suffering from TMJ. It is thus the perfect option for if your snoring, or worse, your partners is getting out of hand.
The pillow is made from 100% rebound memory foam and is designed to support both shoulders and muscles to relax. Its contoured shape enables optimum alignment of both the spine and the neck. The pillow can also be considered the perfect cervical pillow for tmj as its made with from brand patented memory foam that responds and reshapes according to your optimum head and neck settings.
The cervical contour feature also assists with sleepers that snore as the cervical contour is designed to support the body’s natural neck curve. By using it, a sleeper will thus benefit from improved airways. You can thus expect more comfortable, less noisy, and painless nights.
- Helps reduce pains associated with sleeping by offering better support
- Reduces instances of snoring
- It is soft and breathable
- Its washable
- The pillow might be too small for you
- Might offer you inferior support if you are a back sleeper
3: Royal Therapy Queen Memory Foam Pillow
- Material: Memory foam
- Sleeper Type: All sleepers
- Firmness Level: Medium, and gentle firmness
You’ll know this pillow is meant for kings and queens immediately you discover its manufacturer. It’s a product fit for royalty too and it is suitable for both side, back and stomach sleepers. Heck, it will support you just as equally if you are the type to sleep on your back but still want to tilt your neck to the side.
This pillow, from Royal Therapy is highly adjustable and are made from memory foam that contours to perfectly fit all your curvature. In doing so, the option absorbs just enough pressure to make it an enviable TMJ pillow for side sleeping, back sleeping and even stomach sleeping. Purchasing the pillow will ensure you no longer wonder about what the best sleeping position for TMJ. Rather you can proceed with your normal sleeping habits and the pillow will do the rest.
Moreover, the pillow comes with a bamboo cover, which enables equal transmission of pressure every time the pillow is in use. The option above remains the best TMJ pain relief pillow due to this functionality. With its ergonomically superior design this pillow from Royal Therapy is certain to give you the best possible spinal alignment.
The above pillow option could also help you benefit from better sleep times, even when not suffering from TMJ-related disorders. Sleeping with an optimally aligned spine offers benefits that include more clear airways, and less turning and tossing, all of which help guarantee sound, continuous, and restful sleep.
There are no special instructions on using the above pillow either. Its design is similar to many of the ordinary pillows with the exception of a raised ridge at the top and bottom to cradle your neck, and a valley towards the middle of the pillow to support your head.
- Comes in four different sizes, (Queen, Extra Queen, King, Extra King)
- Offers superior, spinal alignment
- The Pillow is ultra-adjustable
- The bamboo cover is environmentally-friendly, and it helps dissipates body heat as you sleep
- The memory foam might have a few creases
- The 5-year warranty is exceptionally hard to activate
4: SEPOVEDA Contour Memory Foam Pillow
- Material: Made of memory foam and a Cover that’s 25% Polyester, 75% Cotton
- Sleeper Type: All sleepers
- Firmness Level: Medium Density
The pillow above by SEPOVEDA is one of the best options to get when the doctor orders you get a cervical pillow. It is designed to help you with multiple problems, including alleviation of severe head, neck and shoulder pains.
One of the best functions of the pillow is its support of the neck and shoulders. This support is enabled by the contoured shaped surface to be found on the pillow. The specially designed surface goes a long way towards ensuring you get the proper spinal alignment when in your sleeping position. As such, every sleep time becomes more refreshing and rejuvenating.
The memory foam used is also of superior quality as it quickly shifts from adopting the sleeper’s contours, and rebounding to its natural position when not in use. The pillow also easily cradles the neck and shoulders with just enough support due to being made from premium foam. Given the features above, the option above is certainly a contender for best pillow for side sleepers.
- Superior neck and shoulder support
- Made from high quality memory foam, cotton and polyester
- Great for pain relief
- It might be a bit too thin for personal comfort
5: Nature’s Guest Cervical Pillow
- Material: No Memory Foam
- Sleeper Type: Back sleepers that regularly shift to the side
- Firmness Level: Medium density
- Special Feature: Regularly recommended by chiropractors orthopaedic professionals
The above pillow by Nature’s Guest features a design that’s been proven to help reduce neck pain by maintaining head, spine and neck alignment as one sleeps. This patented design makes it one of the best TMJ pain relief pillows in the market today.
The special edges to be found at the centre of the pillow help ensure that your head is just as sufficiently supported regardless of what sleep posture your body assumes. You can, thus, expect more comfortable and refreshing sleep when you use the pillow above.
Moreover, the pillow also features some cool settings that allow you to adjust it to better fit your needs. The dual zipper provided at the side of the pillow enables such adjustments, and from here you can add or remove pillow filling as you wish. Doing so will also help you maintain the level of firmness you desire by enabling you shift between soft, medium, and hard firmness as deem fit.
- Cover is made from premium cotton fibre
- Patented micro-fibre makes it perfectly hypoallergenic
- Customer satisfaction is guaranteed by a 30-day money back guarantee
- Its adjustable
- The zippers on the pillow are prone to breaking
Following a review of five of the best pillows in the market for TMJ sleepers, it is now possible to better determine which model suits you perfectly. From the above reviews too, it is clear that multiple factors exist, all of which must be considered sufficiently before the final purchase decision is made. Some of the most important factors include:
Your preferred sleeping posture – should be among the most important determinants of the TMJ pillow you eventually procure. The multiple options available in the market today ensure that TMJ pillows exist for all sleep postures known today. However, a pillow that is made to perfectly fit the sleeping needs of one posture might be entirely wrong for all other postures. Moreover, such a pillow might be no good if you are constantly shifting between laying on the stomach, back and side over the course of the night. Given the above considerations, the pest pillow you could get is one that accommodates all types of sleepers. In doing so, you’ll benefit from continuous sleep all night regardless of your posture.
The specific needs – Do you need a pillow more for your back, or for your cervical neck? What’s good for the goose might not be good for the gander in this case, as some pillows perform one function better than the other options. As can be seen from the reviews, some pillow options can help reduce snoring by freeing up the airwaves, while others offer superior support to the neck and shoulders. Before you settle on a pillow then, be sure to map out all your sleeping needs first.
The materials used to make the pillow – should also be a factor when determining what pillow to get. There are a number of options to consider here, the most common material being memory foam. However, different qualities of memory foam exist, with the low quality options being responsible for lower quality pillows. On the same breath, different types of pillow casing exist for TMJ pillows. As can be seen from the reviews above, these casings include materials such as bamboo, polyester, and cotton. One of the final decisions to make before purchasing your pillow is what materials most suit your needs.