(NaturalHealth365) These days, it is common to hear about the dangers of bacteria that can spread through root canal to the entire body and can even cause cancer. There are also dozens of studies that make the direct connection between amalgam fillings and a host of health issues.
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Naturally, most people still wonder: Can soreness in the jaw really lead to issues throughout the body? In truth, the ramifications of TMJ on the rest of our body’s systems may surprise you. There is evidence that TMJ may be linked to other conditions such as arthritis, infections, digestive disorders and autoimmune conditions.
What exactly is TMJ?
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects the lower jaw to the temporal bone of the skull. It is a “hinge joint” and is made of up of not only muscle and bones but nerves as well. In fact, your TMJ is the most important joint in your body; 30 to 40 % of your body’s nerve impulses run through it.
Temporamandibular disorder (TMJ, sometimes TMD) is a condition that causes pain in the jaw joint and surrounding areas. There are approximately 35 million individuals who suffer from TMJ in the U.S. And, women are affected twice as much as men.
Chronic pain is the most common symptom of TMJ, but some may also experience dizziness, and blurred vision as well as neck, shoulder and back pain as well. TMJ can effect an individual’s ability to chew, swallow, speak, make facial expressions and even breathe.
How is TMJ connected to digestive tract health problems
A groundbreaking study by the University of Massachusetts found that TMJ sufferers had 112% more digestive complaints than those who did not have TMJ.
The connection between TMJ and digestive issues lies primarily with improper mastication. Chewing food is the first step in the overall digestion process. With that first bite, enzymes in the saliva are released which starts to break down starches and other components in food. When you do not chew your food all the way, it is more difficult for your intestines to absorb nutrients and there is the potential for food particles to enter the blood.
How is TMJ related to immune dysfunction?
A 2008 study conducted by the Department of Orthodontics at Kyushu University in Japan looked at the connection between TMJ, osteoarthritis and allergies. The results suggested a strong correlation between all three.
There are a couple of reasons why this would be the case. The first has to do with chronic stress as the common factor in both TMJ and a compromised immune system, especially autoimmune conditions. Stress has been linked to teeth clenching and night grinding and also elicits the fight-or-flight response in the body. Fight-or-flight sends signals in the form of certain hormones to all systems, including the immune system.
Over time, this process wears out the body and opens the doorway to disease.
The second reason for the connection between TMJ and immune dysfunction has to do with improper mastication. About 80% of your immune system is housed in your gut.
To the immune system, undigested protein may look like a foreign substance, and the immune system will begin to make antibodies to it. This can lead directly to food sensitivities, inflammation and autoimmune conditions.
When the immune system is out of whack, there is also a higher risk of infections and chronic conditions like allergies.
High stress and unprocessed foods in the gut – two common factors for TMJ – lead directly to immune system imbalance and a lower production of natural killer cells. More importantly, it can open the door to diseases such as cancer.
What you can do about TMJ
Take heart if you have TMJ. There are specific things that you can do to eliminate TMJ and reduce its painful effects:
1. Get acupuncture treatment: This is by far the most effective non-conventional modality for alleviating TMJ. A recent study from Britain discovered that 85% of patients with TMJ benefited from acupuncture, with a 75% reduction in pain. Another study conducted in 2008 found that patients’ improvement of TMJ symptoms were still noticeable up to 20 years after acupuncture treatment.
2. Practice stress management: Modalities for reducing stress abound but perhaps the most common is the practice of meditation and physical stretching such as yoga or tai chi. Practicing an art or craft, physical exertion, changing diet habits and reducing external stressors are just a few of the many ways that you can drastically reduce stress and its harmful effects in your own life.
3. Chew your food slowly: This may seem strange at first, but significantly slowing down your chewing (some suggest to chew 100 times before you swallow) has been shown to lead not only to better digestion, but also slower weight gain as well.
4. Consider wearing a night guard when you sleep if you know that you grind your teeth at night.
Since the temporomandibular joint is the largest nerve joint in the body, the influence it has on your nervous system as well as on every other system in your body just makes sense. It is also another example of how a healthy oral area can lead to a healthy body over all.
About the author:Dr. Veronique Desaulniers (“Dr. V”) is a best-selling author and specialist in Chiropractic, Bio-Energetics, Meridian Stress Analysis, Homeopathy and Digital Thermography. After 30 years in active practice, she decided to “retire” and devote her time to sharing her personal, non-toxic Breast Cancer healing journey with others. Her years of experience and research have culminated in “The 7 Essentials™ “, a step-by-step coaching program that unravels the mystery of healing the body. Her website and personal healing journey have touched the lives of thousands of women around the globe. To get your F.R.E.E. 7-day mini e-course and to receive her weekly inspiring articles on the power of natural medicine – visit: BreastCancerConqueror.com
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