What is the TMJ (temporomandibular joint)?
Before you can determine whether or not you can take magnesium for TMJ, you need to know what a temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is. There are two TMJ joints, and they connect your jawbone to your skull. This bilateral synovial articulation lies between the mandible and the skull’s temporal bone.
What’s unique about the TMJ joint is that it’s bilateral — there’s one on each side of your jaw bone — but it functions as one joint. Your TMJ has articulations across three surfaces: the mandible head, the articular tubercle (squamous region of the temporal bone) and the mandibular fossa.
What’s interesting about the TMJ is that the articular surfaces don’t come in contact with each other. They’re separated by an articular disk, which splits the joint into two synovial cavities. The surface of those cavities is covered with fibrocartilage instead of hyaline cartilage.
There are also three extracapsular ligaments that stabilize the temporomandibular joint. These are the lateral ligament, the sphenomandibular ligament and the stylomandibular ligament. This sophisticated system of ligaments can lead to numerous disorders that cause pain and discomfort.
What is temporomandibular joint dysfunction?
The TMJ is susceptible to issues, or disorders. A temporomandibular disorder is caused when something malfunctions with the joint on either side of your jaw. While there’s not a single cause that leads to this trouble, TMJ disorders can be caused by a number of issues, including genetics, an injury or arthritis.
Temporomandibular joint dysfunction symptoms include jaw pain, tenderness, discomfort in one of the joints, aching around your ear, trouble chewing, facial discomfort, joint locking and trouble opening or closing your mouth. TMJ disorders can also cause a grating or clicking sensation when you chew or open your mouth. However, if no pain is involved, you may not require any medical treatment.
Some people respond to the jaw pain by grinding or clenching their teeth. Known as bruxism, clenching or grinding your teeth can exacerbate the situation and lead to more pain. Fortunately, it’s not usually difficult to treat TMJ and alleviate jaw pain and surgery to correct a TMJ disorder is extremely uncommon. One of the most common solutions is to take magnesium for a TMJ disorder.
What’s the link between magnesium and TMJ?
There’s an interesting correlation between TMJ and magnesium deficiency. In a 2008 Baylor University Medical Center study, 23 women with severe TMJ were studied. In that trial, 22 percent suffered from a magnesium deficiency, as well as other nutrient deficiencies, such as Vitamin B6, Vitamin C and iron.
The researchers determined that the lack of nutrition in their diets and inability to absorb essential minerals was exacerbating their TMJ disorder. Additionally, The TMJ Association cites that the University of Maryland Medical Center uses magnesium and calcium supplements to treat TMJ dysfunction, even though more scientific evidence is needed to prove those are effective ways of treating the disease.
That being said, the correlation between magnesium and TMJ makes sense. First of all, studies show magnesium reduces inflammation in the body. Research also shows that magnesium is used in more than 600 reactions within the body, including the regulation of muscle contraction and relaxation.
How are magnesium and bruxism connected?
We now have a better understanding of the correlation between magnesium and TMJ. But what’s the relation between magnesium and teeth grinding?
If you suffer from temporomandibular joint dysfunction, it’s also likely that you clench or grind your teeth during the day or at night. Stress, which everyone deals with occasionally, can also cause bruxism.
The Sleep Foundation estimates that nearly 15% of adolescents and 8% of middle-aged adults deal with sleep bruxism. And some of the most common symptoms of magnesium deficiency are muscle spasms, tension and cramps, which can cause teeth grinding. Additionally, magnesium deficiency has been linked to elevated levels of stress, which can make the clenching and grinding even worse.
If you are already suffering from temporomandibular joint pain, grinding or clenching your jaw is only going to make the discomfort and pain worse. That’s why it’s vital that you find ways to relax your jaw and give these vital joints a rest. One possible solution is taking a magnesium supplement for jaw clenching, but that’s typically only the case if you have a magnesium deficiency.
Does magnesium help with bruxism?
So, does magnesium help with teeth grinding? It depends on what is causing your bruxism in the first place. If you are magnesium deficient, that could be the cause of your teeth grinding.
Contrary to popular belief, magnesium isn’t only good for muscle health; it’s also needed for nerve function. And if you’re under a lot of stress, magnesium is more likely to be depleted. Additionally, magnesium can help you get a better night’s sleep, which further reduces the chances of bruxism.
Studies show that magnesium activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which allows you to relax and feel calm, physically. Research also shows that magnesium regulates the hormone melatonin, allowing your sleep-wake cycles to be regular. And when you enjoy consistent and restful sleep, your body is less likely to be affected by stress, reducing the chances of you grinding your teeth.
While taking magnesium for teeth clenching may work for some, it’s not intended for everyone. If you are suffering from a medical condition that is causing you to clench and grind your teeth during the day or at night, it’s best to speak with your healthcare provider before the situation worsens.
Can I take a magnesium supplement for jaw clenching? What about teeth grinding (bruxism)?
Once you’ve confirmed you have a magnesium deficiency, you should consider taking magnesium citrate for bruxism. Magnesium and jaw health are interlinked; magnesium helps control muscle contraction and relaxation, and a deficiency can lead to spasms and cramps. If you want to take magnesium for TMJ, we recommend following the advice of healthcare professionals. The Office of Dietary Supplements recommends that most adults receive between 310 and 420 mg of magnesium daily.
Consider eating magnesium-rich foods to curb your deficiency as well. Foods high in magnesium include almonds, cashews, spinach, peanuts, soymilk, wheat cereal or bread, black beans and peanut butter.
However, if you’re having trouble getting enough magnesium through diet alone and you continue to clench your jaw and grind your teeth, you should consider taking magnesium for jaw clenching.
We don’t recommend exceeding dosage instructions without advice from a healthcare provider. But it isn’t until people take 5,000 mg of magnesium a day that it can become toxic, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. Still, it’s always best to speak with your doctor before taking new supplements.
A diet high in magnesium may reduce the symptoms of a TMJ disorder. And if you are magnesium deficient, upping your magnesium intake should be a top priority, especially if you have a TMJ disorder.