Do you experience constant pain or swelling in your jaw, chronic migraines, or ringing in your ears? Does it hurt when you bite, yawn or talk? Or maybe you have constant back or recurring sinus pain? If so, you are likely experiencing temporomandibular joint (TMJ) symptoms. Your TMJ connects the lower jaw to the skull so you can open and close it with ease. But, if these joints are troubled, the good news is there are things you can do to relieve your symptoms, including making some simple lifestyle changes.
These changes can keep you from resorting to unhealthy ways of coping with stress, like clenching your jaw and grinding your teeth, especially since you use your TMJ’s and muscle to speak, chew, and swallow! You want to protect them for optimal function and day-to-day comfort.
What Causes TMJ?
There are a variety of factors that could be causing your TMJ issues:
- Arthritis (damaging the joint’s cartilage)
- Chronic gum chewing
- Connective tissue disease
- Issues with your jaw’s discs
- Previous orthodontic treatment
- Structurally uneven jaw
- Traumatic injury to the jaw
- Unhealthy posture
Fortunately, there are things you can do from the comfort of your own home to help relieve your symptoms and feel better.
Easing Jaw Pain and Discomfort
- Relieve stress: Relieving stress is one of the most effective ways to treat TMJ as people’s unhealthy coping mechanisms often lead to TMJ issues. Try practicing relaxation techniques involving breathwork, meditation, yoga, regular massages, or cognitive behavioral therapy (psychological treatment) since they play a healthy role in preventing and treating stress.
- Cut back on caffeine and alcohol: Your favorite coffee, tea, and nightcap act as stimulants, so they aggravate your stress levels, leaving you prone to clenching your jaw and teeth grinding (bruxism) while you sleep.
- Watch what you eat: Eat soft and blended foods that don’t require heavy-duty biting and chewing movements (soups, stews, smoothies, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and cooked veggies). Cut your food into tiny pieces so they are easy to chew (remove corn from the cob and slice raw fruits and veggies, so you don’t have to open your jaw wide to bite).
- Relieve pain: Apply moist heat by wrapping a hot water bottle inside of a damp towel. Conversely, if you have a swollen jaw, try applying an ice pack every 10-15 to help relieve inflammation.
- Jaw exercises: Try doing therapeutic jaw exercises to increase your jaw’s mobility and strengthen your jaw muscles.
- Don’t bite your nails: This habit can lead to bruxism and chewing on non-food items, damaging teeth, gums, and your jaw.
- Change your sleep position: Switching from sleeping on your tummy (which puts pressure on the jaw) to lying prone on your back instead can make a big difference.
- Wear a mouthguard or oral splint: Many people unconsciously clench their jaw and grind their teeth while they sleep, and that’s one reason you end up with morning headaches. Wearing an oral device helps protect your teeth and your jaw joints while you sleep, giving them the rest and recovery they need.
Call for a Medical Evaluation
While living with TMJ disorders is often painful, there are ways to help your jaw joints recover so you can feel better. There are effective medical interventions, which our team can provide, including TMJ oral appliances, TMJ injections, mouth and bite reconstruction, for example. You don’t need to continue to suffer from chronic TMJ pain, and we urge you to reach out to our experienced team to evaluate your condition and determine what’s causing your TMJ disorder. From there, you can get the help you need to find the relief you deserve! Call today to schedule your consultation.