Last Modified on Jun 23, 2014
Natural Treatments for Oral/Facial Pain and Inflammation
The bones, joints, and muscles of the lower face can experience chronic pain for a number of reasons. Complementary and alternative medicine treatments can help reduce inflammation, reduce muscle tension, and otherwise improve the symptoms of jaw pain and its underlying causes.
Beyond sharp and/or chronic jaw pain, sufferers may also experience symptoms such as jaw clicks (particularly when eating), muscle fatigue in the face, a "locked" jaw, ear pain, and headaches. Causes of jaw pain can include a facial injury, habitual clenching of the jaw, and grinding of the teeth.
Alternative Healing Therapies
Oro-facial massage, stretching of the jaw muscles, and anti-inflammatory supplements such as omega-3 oils or green tea extracts may help reduce tension and inflammation in the jaw thereby reducing jaw pain. Resting the jaw by not eating foods that are difficult to chew should reduce pain and allow the jaw to heal in some cases, as can use of heating pads or ice packs as appropriate.
02/17/2012: Steve from Las Vegas, Nevada: "My suggestion is an unconventional one. Google energy healers. There are a lot of good healers who can help you with this pain right over the phone as crazy as it sounds. Physical therapy, chiropractic, and certainly surgery will most likely not improve this condition."
02/16/2012: Debbie from Melbourne, Australia: "Clenching and grinding teeth may be a magnesium deficiency. Try having a 30 minute bath/soak with Epsom salts before you go to bed and see if there is any difference."
02/19/2012: Bev from Long Beach, Ca: "It sounds like the same thing I suffered with years ago. My chiropractor put his fingers in my mouth and pressed on my left side at the hinge area. My jaw was stuck on the right side. He kept applying pressure until the right side relaxed. I have used this technique when I feel one side or the other start to lock. Do it yourself... Between your upper and lower jaw at the hinge. Good luck."
02/19/2012: Mt from Ottawa, On Canada: "I found on EC one article about tmj under the sesame oil pulling section -it looks that sesame oil pulling helps on the jaw pain.
There are also at least 2 acupuncture points dedicated to locked jaw condition -I guess that an acupuncture session may help."
06/20/2014: Tony from Tn, US: "My mother has a knot that pops up on the inside of her mouth near her jawbone. This started a few years ago but the knot increases in size each time causing painful speaking & eating. The knot was small the first time this happened. It pops up suddenly & goes away in 2-3 days. This most recent time the knot is about the size of an egg. This is the biggest the knot has been.
She has Type 2 diabetes & Fibro so I wonder if this knot isn't complications from either or both of those ailments. She's 73 years old & in decent health otherwise. She is pretty stubborn when it comes to doing something about her own health.
I also try to help her with natural solutions but she keeps trust in her doctors. Could this also be a side effect of her diabetes medication? I know she takes Metformin, BP medicine, & hormone pills but I think that's all she takes.
What could be the causes of this knot that keeps popping up & going away relatively quickly? The knot isn't real hard but isn't soft either. It's towards her upper jaw bone. She's in quite a bit of pain this time compared to other times this has happened. It's been a long time between episodes of this happening as well. She says it's been over a year since the knot was there the last time. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!"Replies
06/20/2014: Helpyourself from Texas, US replies: "Hi Tony! It sounds something like tmj. European people seem to get this and many in my family have this. If you open your mouth very wide and move lower jaw around this seems to stop the spasm or whatever it is and then one is back to normal. It is as if we have some movable piece around the back of the jaw on one side only and it clicks into this place once or twice per year causing this weird, scary discomfort. I call it the Neanderthal effect and affect. No one in my family has done anything about it as far as surgery, etc. don't think they is a need to do anything. Good Luck!"
06/21/2014: Nanowriter from Hotspot, Texas replies: "She may want to see a dentist to see if it's an abscessed tooth. In the meantime, eating lots of garlic and/or putting diluted clove oil on the area may help the pain."
06/21/2014: Tony from Tn, US replies: "Would TMJ cause a knot to keep coming back up over & over again? I know people that have TMJ & they don't get knots from it. Just pain & discomfort but nothing really noticeable like my mother has. Also, my mother has false teeth so an infected tooth is not the cause. Now, it could be an infected gum or something but not a tooth.
This gives my mother no warning before the knot pops up. It appears with pain & discomfort & goes away on its own in a few days. She's just more miserable this time than any of the other times this has happened. Thanks!"
06/22/2014: Mama to Many from Tennessee replies: "Dear Tony,
Has your mother had any improvement?
I am having a hard time picturing the exact location. I keep thinking "swollen lymph node." But it sounds like the swelling is inside of her mouth?
I agree with Nanowriter that garlic and clove oil would be good for possible infection and also the pain.
Whatever it is, it is some kind of inflammation, so I would consider a number of different things that would be natural anti-inflammatories.
1 teaspoon turmeric three times a day, in some whole fat milk. Adding a little black pepper helps it to work the best. Good for pain, inflammation, infection.
Lots of vitamin C - 1 gram every hour or two unless there is diarrhea, then cut back a little.
Let us know how she is doing! I am so sorry she is having so much discomfort!
~Mama to Many~"
06/22/2014: Kt from Usa replies: "Hi Tony, I agree with Mama to Many about taking turmeric and vitamin C. Since this is something that comes and goes, does she eat a lot of processed food? Corn, soy and/or their products are in practically everything and have been genetically modified. They could contribute to the problem. That goes for most, if not all fruits and vegetables. The flowing agent in common table salt contributes and, in my opinion, could be the very thing that causes high BP.
Because dairy cows are fed corn and because corn has been genetically modified, "whole milk" is not what it used to be. For years, I purchased whole milk that came from free-range, grass-fed dairy cows. The milk was in glass bottles. I cannot go into detail because I spent so much time on another reply but I felt I needed reply to you.
Too many carbohydrates and hidden sources of MSG in the diet contribute to all kinds of problems and because everyone eats differently, everyone will have a different reaction. Things were happening to me and my husband that caused me to call the dairy and ask if their cows were being fed corn. I was told they were.
After learning about MSG over twenty years ago, I stopped using common table salt and got only a sea salt that is considered nature's first sea salt. I purchased butter and canned vegetables without salt. By the process of elimination the only thing left causing problems was the whole milk. After I called the dairy and got the confirmation I needed, I started getting the two per-cent milk and our problems subsided. I use coconut oil, olive oil and walnuts to get the "good fat" that I need.
It might be a good idea for your mother to eliminate the things I mentioned for awhile to see if her knot goes down. Better yet, you could start writing down what she eats and the times she eats. Take note when she has flare-ups and maybe you can identify what is causing them. YES, the binders and fillers in her meds could contribute but if you eliminate the things I mentioned she may be able to tolerate those or not even need her BP medicine.
It makes sense to me that the combination of any variety of ingredients could contribute to inconsistent flare-ups."
06/23/2014: Kt from Usa replies: "Dear Tony, I neglected to specifically address "diabetes". Our food is being engineered to last longer so it doesn't spoil or go rancid. Genetically modified fruits and vegetables have become difficult for our bodies to assimilate. GMO grasses and grains are being fed to the animals we eat and get milk or eggs from. I had to reduce my meat consumption because it seemed to take longer to digest, especially beef. I had a difficult time keeping my weight down and felt bloated most of the time due to fluid retention. Too many carbohydrates cause fluid retention and indigestion, discovered by an MD. I had worse indigestion after I ate one hard-boiled egg that was supposed to have come from a free-range chicken who had also been fed a special blend of grain obtained from the Amish. The blend contained GMO grain. The eggs were so large the carton was hard to close.
Some farmers are genuinely trying to produce better food for us. They are truly not aware that they are no longer in control of what is happening to the food.
For a very brief time we tried the "free range, grass-fed" steer, chicken and chicken eggs. We had more joint pain, kidney and bladder issues in addition to more indigestion. I'm glad we both recognized the problems just after a few weeks because we could not afford to continue purchasing that "healthier" food. What we experienced seemed to confirm that, what the animals were being fed had been infiltrated with GMO's. Because animals do not eat identical, the quality of their meat, milk and eggs can vary so effects are going to vary. It's hard to say any one thing can cause any one problem.
I used to eat more eggs, cheese and meat because they were supposed to contain zero carbohydrates. This is no longer true.
Then there are the binders and fillers in medication and supplements. There are flowing or anti-caking agents in spices. Diabetes is on the rise, I feel, because we are overloaded with a variety of starch products in our food supply. Many are nerve stimulants that cause joint pain. "Arthritis" is an acceptable age-related ailment. Now we have "fibromyalgia" that has also become acceptable and medication is prescribed for that. Other starches seem to "paint" the inside of our arteries, veins and other tubules needed for proper organ function. We either have over stimulation of nerve cells or we have accumulation that is causing our organs to shut down. New ailments have become acceptable and more cures are being sought instead of identifying the probable cause. I feel it is accurate to say our health crisis is due to hidden sources of MSG combined with GMO's in our food supply in one form or another. This seems to be another Catch-22.
Since your mother is 73, the foods she is used to eating have changed. My mother would have been 85 if she was alive. She assumed the FDA would not allow what is happening. They have even been allowing known carcinogens to be added to our food despite the 1958 Delaney Amendment which states, "no additive may be permitted in any amount if the tests show that it produces cancer when fed to man or animals or by other appropriate tests." We are not being protected and it appears each generation is getting worse.
I've made attempts to be thorough but I'm sure I've left something out. I hope I haven't overwhelmed you or other readers.
Some of these assertions have been taken from videos available at the library. The others are a result of my personal application and observation. Because our food supply has been changing, I've had to change my eating habits over the last two decades. Not everyone is correct about everything all the time but I am learning what is working for me. I hope I've provided you with some ideas that will help your mother."
06/23/2014: Kt from Usa replies: "In scanning over what I posted, I did leave something out. I know I typed it but maybe it was deleted during my constant amending.
Before I got married, I ate very little processed food and only had facial and internal cysts once in awhile.
After I got married we ate a lot of processed food because we both worked full-time. I had a cyst on one of my ovaries that got so large it ruptured. The pain was excruciating. I think that speaks for itself."
02/16/2012: Lock-jawed from Morrison, Tn, Usa: "I am at the end of my rope and I am hoping you can help me.
Current situation: Yesterday I woke up with severe pain in my left jaw joint area and the jaw is locked shut. I went to a chiropractor who used 12 minutes of traction and the Pulse Star machine on me. I came home, took a Valerian root cap and applied a moist heating pad to the joint for approximately an hour and a half. The jaw pain on the left side went away and reverted back to the right side, but not as severe as what was on the left side. This morning, I awoke with the same problem- only more severe.
Forty years ago, when I had braces applied, I started to notice clicking in my jaw. Over the years, it has gotten worse and last February, my jaw locked shut and has remained so ever since. I have seen seven different doctors, from a chiropractor to a maxillofacial surgeon with no relief whatsoever.I read the info on this site and I had been taking magnesium, zinc, vit. C, vit. D, and selenium for about two weeks - up until yesterday. I have also been taking the baking soda/lemon juice twice a day.
I can't stand this anymore, can you help me? Thank you for your time."Replies
02/16/2012: Gracie from Cities, Mn replies: "Sorry, I don't know much about this but my friend had similar problem recently and it was TMJ. (inflammation in skull bones). Maybe try and research it."
02/16/2012: Citygirl from Nanaimo, Bc replies: "Have you tried DMSO? Do your own research first, though. The book : The persecuted drug, the story of DMSO is a good read."
02/17/2012: Timh from Louisville, Ky, Usa replies: "Lock-jawed, I have experienced a similar problem that may have something in common w/ yours. About 2 yrs ago I was prescribed Levothyroxin (generic) for Hypothyroidism. Day one took ??mcg tab 1st thing getting up and by late afternoon began experiencing pain in my right jaw. Pain wasn't so bad as to associate it w/ med but was going to play it safe if it did get worse. Day 2 take med and by that afternoon jaw pain worsened to severe and overnight extended to a migraine headache. At this point I am completely debilitated and lived on vegetable juice for that night and next day. Day 4/5 was desperate for any kind of relief so decided to take a bath in Povidone Iodine and received instant relief and rebounded from the entire nightmare somewhat whole... Until several months later when I noticed a minor speech impediment at the beginning of speaking, and sometime latter noticed my entire right jaw somewhat swollen and my mouth drooped about 1/4 inch (also on right side) and remains so up to today.
My best guess at this med reaction is my occasional gastritis and leaky gut which could have allowed the med to be absorbed directly into bloodstream without being first metabolized by the liver, just guessing. What this has to do w/ the jaw or jawbone I do not know. Also I have a current recurring headache of almost intolerable degree.
I haven't experienced the lockjaw as you have, but I can repeatedly pop it by moving jaw from one side to other. Only thing I can guess w/ you is some kind of toxicity or drug interaction issue, or maybe even some type of infection. I have yet to gargle a mouth full of Bentonite Clay as a remedy. Am just about to try 2 "Homeopathic Detoxifier" sublingual. I will report any positive changes in my condition if they occur.
Please report back any changes in your condition."
02/17/2012: Debbie from Melbourne, Australia replies: "Timh, I recommend you watch the linked video from Dr. Terry Wahls called "Food as Medicine: Brain Health". After doing the research herself, she cured her MS by eating a paleo diet and adding supplements specifically for the mitochondria to heal. She also mentions headaches and migraines in her informative 6 part video. It may help your headaches.
02/17/2012: Brian from Adelaide, Sth Aus, Australia replies: "Hi Lockjaw, I am about to take your plea and a reply from Timh to uncharted waters. Just yesterday I posted a cure that worked for me for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and I am thinking there is a connection to both your problems. Timh's sounds a bit like Bell's Palsy which is caused by an interruption to the Seventh Cranial Nerve which controls facial expressions. Also known as the facial nerve, it has pathways along both sides of the face leading to and wrapping around the jawbone. If perchance you both sleep with one hand under your jaw then I am thinking there is a possibilty you are both causing damage by accidental compression. An average human head weighs up to 5kg compared to an average extruded house brick that weighs about 3kg. In some cases it compresses the wrist resulting in CTS symptoms but I am taking a stab in the dark that in other cases may go the other way and compress the facial nerve and affect the jaw. Here is the link to my post :
02/18/2012: Timh from Louisville, Ky replies: "Debbie, thanks for your suggestions. Unfortunately I have several factors preventing that perfect diet. I do make big efforts to avoid the worst foods and consume the best, otherwise I eat mostly canned or frozen foods and supplement to insure the best nutrient obtainable. I can't even keep fresh fruits & veggies in the fridge long enough to eat them before they go bad and I throw them out (and I hate to waste anything).
If I had a dream come true, I would love to take a personal journey to the middle-earth paleo lifestyle for at least periodic intervals to regain health. This always leaves me imagining also gaining great spiritual strength from power places like Stonehenge and Glastonbury Thor. Just imagine the physical, mental, and spiritual health of those ancient peoples!"
02/18/2012: Debbie from Melbourne, Australia replies: "Timh, I take your point. If you are worried about them going off you could juice them. I go to farmers markets so the fruit is fresher than in the supermarkets. Also you can make your own wheatgrass juice and there is nothing better than that as far as nutrition goes. It contains all the needed nutrients. Sprouts are also something you can make yourself on the kitchen bench in a few days and are very healthy. Dr. Wahls also mentioned cod liver oil as being good for brain health. You only need about 1 tsp per day so it lasts a long time.
There are problems with tinned foods with the plastic lining in them. Also they probably contain MSG so you have to be careful."
02/18/2012: Lock-jawed from Morrison, Tn, Usa replies: "Thanks, everyone, for the suggestions.
I have done enough research on TMJ that I should be giving advice, not asking for it. 8-) The trouble is, doctors now are so specialized that they have tunnel vision when it comes to prescribing a cure: an oral surgeon says surgery will work, a chiropractor says a neck adjustment will work, a dentist wants to pull teeth, an orthodontist wants to apply braces, and a massage therapist wants to do a massage. None of them seem to be looking at the whole picture.
I bought an excellent book two years ago when I had the first flare-up, "Management of Common Musculoskeletal Disorders, Physical Therapy Principles and Methods, " which describes the TMJ area and connecting elements in great detail. I wish I could find a doctor who read this book.
I think my problem is mainly with the muscles due to an unnatural amount of stress and anxiety over the past two years. A secondary, and possibly related, cause could be a possibly dead molar with a mercury filling. About ten years ago, when this molar started to bother me when I chewed on it, I began chewing exclusively on the left side. I think this caused an imballance in the jaw muscles, which caused the joint to go out of whack. I have found a biological dentist an hour and a half away from me, but I don't think she can help until I am able to get my mouth open.
Since I lost my job last week, due to the jaw problem, I can now use this time to seriously doctor myself.
I am eating only soft foods (because that is all I can eat), I am taking two Valarian root caps three times a day along with the Vit. C & D, magnesium, zinc, and selenium. I spend all day reclined with a heating pad on my left jaw, and deep massage of the muscles every hour or so. And I have promised myself to not do anything, or even worry about doing anything - my goal is zero stress - at least for the duration of the healing process.
I have faith in this new chiropractor since he seems to have an understanding of how it all works together. If nothing else, relieving the tension in my neck and shoulder muscles will be a big help.
I think I recall reading about DMSO remedies on a bird web site. Is it the same thing?
I happen to have a box of epsom salt in my bathroom. I'll give that a try tonight.
Any other suggestions are greatly appreciated!"
02/18/2012: Lock-jawed from Morrison, Tn, Usa replies: "Hi Brian, No, I go to sleep on one side or the other, but I always wake up flat on my back.
You are right about compression on the nerve though. I've been looking up trigeminal neuralgia because I sometimes have the stabbing pains associated with this, but in my case I really think it is due to inflamation in the joint area.
I also came across a web site about mercury fillings which had a before and after photo of a woman who was diagnosed with MG after having the filings put in her teeth. One side of her face is droopy, like she had a stroke. Thats what I look like, on the right side, the side with the bad molar. I think because of a possible infection in that tooth, an excess amount (any amount is excess in my opinion) of mercury is seeping into my system. The right side of my head feels like it is made of lead... inside and out.
So, I'm wondering, would it be advisable to do a toxic metal detox now, or should I wait until after I have this tooth fixed/pulled?
I really think there is a connection between the tooth and the jaw issue... just don't know what."
02/22/2012: Andrea C from Cardiff, Wales: "I too have been under great stress due to ilness and 'every day life' xxx there is nothing finer than 'stress for beating the body up!! I am going to suggest a book, yes a book xxx Its by JOHN E. SARNO, M. D. He discovered what he named, 'Tension Myositis Syndrome' (T. M. S) I too had 'locked jaw's' and intensce pain, which I belive were origanally triggered off by a medication. Which in turn getting off of it AND withdrawaral symptoms, only made my 'stress levels' escalate even more!! I nearly bit my dentist fingers off at 1 appointment because I could not 'open wide' and the dentist shoved their hand in the corner of my mouth and tried to pry it open futher, bad mistake! My jaw and 'clamped completely closed, and I was panicking 'more stress!! ' and the dentist was break dancing and screaming, and I was in agony, trying 2 scream, and then had a bloody 'asthma attack' just 2 cap it off!! (even more stress! ) see?
Anyway 2 cut along story short the book is called 'THE MIND BODY PRESCPIPTION' by JOHN E. SARNO, MD. U can search the web for info, on him and T. M. S but BUY the book xxxxx Howard Stern also used this when he was in agony from back and shoulder pain. You can get it on 'Amazon' there is a lot of positive reviews on it, and a few neg 1's, but do not let this put you off. Also, a wise west indian nurse once told me, 'even if the pain or thoughts won't let you sleep lay down and rest the body 4 its as important as resting your mind. Believe me you have my sympathy as I have med probs that besides chronic pain stop me from being able 2 do the simplest of tasks. But I also belive in 'seek and you will find the answer' xxxx Anything is worth a try when you are suffering to the point of despair which only causes more anxiety, stress, and pain xxxx hope this helps you, you may have to read it a few times as some people stated, but stick with it and try 2 avoid people, or situations that stress you, even your own family!! They're usually the worst offenders!!! LOVE Andrea c xxxxxxxxxxxx"