Treating TMJ Issues: some medications cause jaw clenching

I’ve learned that some widely used pharmaceutical medications can cause jaw clenching and grinding as side effects.

The best known are in a class called SSRIs, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, commonly prescribed for depression and/or anxiety.

I’m sure you’ve heard of Prozac (generic name fluoxetine). Here are some other SSRIs that can cause bruxism:

  • Zoloft (sertraline)
  • Celexa (citalopram)
  • Lexapro (escitalopram)
  • Paxil and Pexeva (paroxetine and paroxetine CR)
  • Viibryd (vilazodone)
  • Luvox (fluvoxamine and fluvoxamine CR)

Do not stop taking them without a doctor’s supervision, as you may have withdrawal symptoms, possibly dangerous.

In general, if you take any of these medications and you are clenching or grinding your teeth, talk to your doctor about alternatives: psychotropics, dopamine agonists, antihistaminergics, and psychostimulants, as well as other measures to relieve anxiety and depression.

I recently learned that there’s an alternative to pharmaceuticals for treating depression and other mental disorders. It’s called TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) and it works with your brain waves (rather than the chemical approach using particles).

It’s been approved by the FDA to treat depression and migraines, and it’s also being used to treat anxiety, OCD, PTSD, Asperger syndrome, TBI, ADHD, and more.

TMS is offered at several places in Austin. Do a search to learn more.

One more bit of info: I had a new TMJ Relief patient who was taking an SSRI. I treated her and gave her the info above.

Unlike others I’ve treated, she didn’t notice a difference in how her TMJs felt and moved at the end of her first session.

However, she emailed me the next day to tell me that for the first time in a while, she woke up without severe jaw pain and headache.

So even if you are taking an SSRI and have jaw pain, one of my TMJ Relief sessions (or even better, several sessions judiciously scheduled to prevent relapse) can help, and meanwhile you can be investigating alternatives.


I invite you to work with me!

MaryAnn Reynolds, MS, LMT, BCTMB
Austin, Texas
Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy • TMJ Relief
online scheduler: maryannreynolds.as.me
text or voicemail: 512-507-4184

Treating TMJ issues: foods and nutrients that can make a difference

There are so many things you can do to relieve the stress that usually accompanies TMJ pain and dysfunction. Today I want to write about nutrients that can make a difference.

You can buy these nutrients in the form of supplements, and sometimes that’s easiest, but studies are finding that our bodies are not absorbing some of the expensive supplements we take to improve our health.

Fresh and organic foods grown in good soil make it more likely that your body will absorb and integrate these nutrients for your benefit.

You’ll want to first get your digestive system in good shape if it’s not, especially healing leaky gut issues by consuming prebiotic and probiotic foods. There’s a lot of information available online, and you can also work with a nutritionist.

On to the nutritional foods! The B-complex vitamins are 8 vitamins that often occur together in food sources. They give us energy, and stress depletes them, so when you’re stressed, you need even more B vitamins to avoid fatigue.

Clenching and grinding your teeth are signs of stress, and these habits also stress the muscles involved. Reducing stress is a key to changing the patterns that result in TMJ issues.

Note that 30-60% of people do not absorb folic acid (B9) and B12 unless they are in the methylated form, so if you’re buying a supplement, read the labels.

Best food sources: meat (especially liver), salmon, dairy, eggs, legumes, brewer’s yeast, spinach, and mushrooms.

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Vitamin C produces collagen, which is present in the cartilage in your joints. The articular disk in your TMJ is made of cartilage, and you want to keep it healthy and undamaged. If your TMJs click or pop or crunch or otherwise make noise, this disk is at risk.

Vitamin C is also easily depleted by stress.

Best food sources: fruits like guava, oranges, kiwi, grapefruit, and strawberries, and veggies like bell peppers, kale, broccoli, and brussels sprouts.

Vitamin D3 helps with bone health and muscle function, decreases pain, and improves feelings of well-being. It’s an antidote to stress.

Most people (except those working outdoors with the sun shining directly on their skin without sunscreen) need to supplement to get enough, although you can get at least some of the D3 you need from sunshine. Outside peak UV hours is best, of course.

Cod liver oil is the highest food source.

Glucosamine helps preserve joint health, rebuilding cartilage (the disc between your upper and lower jaw bones is made of cartilage), lubricating joints, reducing pain, and improving range of motion. More effective than ibuprofen at reducing pain, it can also help with jaw clicking. It can take 4-8 weeks to ease pain. 

This is a nutrient that isn’t easily found in food, except for bone broth made with chicken feet, ox tails, marrow, tendons, knuckle or cartilaginous joints, or shrimp shells. If you decide to supplement, plan on taking 1500 mg daily.

Type II collagen can also help preserve cartilage. Some collagen products also contain glucosamine, so read the label if you take collagen. 

Vitamin K2 helps with calcium absorption, which strengthens bones and nerve function.

Food sources: the Japanese fermented soybean dish natto, grass-fed butter, Gouda, Edam, and Brie cheeses, grass-fed meat, pasture-raised eggs, sauerkraut, and yogurt/kefir.

Magnesium and calcium are essential minerals that many of us are deficient in. Magnesium helps with muscle function (tension causes jaw pain). Calcium helps with bones and nerve signaling.

Food sources for magnesium include leafy greens, dark chocolate, avocados, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and figs. If you supplement, try magnesium threonate or glycinate to bypass bowel distress. 

Food sources for calcium: sardines (with bones), yogurt or dairy kefir, raw milk, and cheese.

Omega 3s have been shown to ease pain and inflammation as effectively as ibuprofen.

Food sources: wild salmon and other fish/seafood like mackerel, herring, sardines, anchovies, and oysters, seaweed, walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, and hemp seeds.

New research indicates that grinding during sleep and restless leg syndrome may be related and that both are signs of a dopamine deficiency. Tyrosine is an amino acid that helps your body produce more dopamine.

Good sources are beef (specifically skirt steak, so bring on the fajitas if you eat meat), lean pork chops, salmon, lean chicken breast, and firm tofu.

Do you notice some foods appearing over and over? Wild salmon, pasture-raised eggs, yogurt/kefir, sardines with bones, leafy greens, and cruciferous veggies are particularly nutrient-dense foods that you can incorporate one or more of at every meal.

As always, get the best quality food you can find and afford: grass-fed/grass-finished meat, pasture-raised eggs, wild-caught fish, organic fruits and vegetables, hormone-free organic dairy.

Why? Because the cells in your body are constantly turning over! They die and new ones are born.

What do you think the new cells are made of? The foods and fluids you consume! The better quality of food and drink that you consume, the healthier you become.


I invite you to work with me!

MaryAnn Reynolds, MS, LMT, BCTMB
Austin, Texas
Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy • TMJ Relief
online scheduler: maryannreynolds.as.me
text or voicemail: 512-507-4184

Treating TMJ issues: videos of self-care techniques

If you suffer from jaw pain, you may want to try some of these jaw exercises and self-massage techniques.

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TMJ Exercises & Stretches to Relieve Jaw Pain — Ask Dr. Jo. 3:03. Dr. Jo is a physical therapist who demonstrates four simple exercises.

TMJ Massage: Pressure Points for Relief by MassageByHeather.com. 3:43. Massage therapist Heather Wibbels shows you four acupressure points for jaw pain. You hold them bilaterally for 30 seconds up to 2 minutes. If you’re looking for something you can do on an airplane without attracting too much attention, do these.

Absolute Best TMJ Treatment You Can Do Yourself for Quick Relief. 5:48. “Bob and Brad, the two most famous physical therapists on the internet” (as their theme song goes) show you how to massage your external jaw muscles.

10 Best TMJ Exercises to Stop Pain in Your Jaw. 11:57. Bob and Brad show you the standard relaxed position for your jaw along with several exercises. Start saving popsicle sticks!

TMJ Exercises #1, 11:25. Chiropractor Adam Fields demonstrates exercises for the back of the neck, which is often tight when you have TMD, tongue exercises, and massage, ending with a relaxation exercise. In TMJ Exercises #2, 10:07, he focuses on massaging the muscles that open and close your jaw. He helps you tie the jaw exercises and massage into really good posture — a good habit that will help relieve jaw tension.

Yoga to Release Jaw Tension from Grinding Teeth, Clenching, TMJ. 10:26. Karuna demonstrates self-massage to release jaw tension, including a technique you can do right before you go to sleep that may prevent clenching and grinding while asleep.

I’m interested in hearing back from you about which exercises help you the most. If you’ve found other helpful videos about TMJ self-care, please let me know.


I invite you to work with me!

MaryAnn Reynolds, MS, LMT, BCTMB
Austin, Texas
Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy • TMJ Relief
online scheduler: maryannreynolds.as.me
text or voicemail: 512-507-4184

Welcome to my brand new website!

This page on my new website is dedicated to my future blog posts about the work I do. I’ve been blogging since late 2009 on the general topic of wellness over at The Well: bodymindheartspirit. I’ve written about food, diet, nutrition, trauma recovery, how to overcome autoimmune disease, healing my damaged tooth enamel, dental pockets, and  wobbly sacroiliac joints, and more. Continue reading “Welcome to my brand new website!”