If you have issues with your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) you already know how it can impact your daily quality of life. Located underneath your ears, these complex joints connect your jaw to your skull so you can move your jaw in all directions as needed. It’s no wonder you may have issues when you think about how much you rely on your TMJ’s every single day just to speak, bite, chew and yawn with ease. But what do you do when you’re planning on traveling this summer?
Be prepared to treat TMJ Flare-Ups should they arise while you’re on the road, flying, sailing or getting to your destination. It’s no fun to sightsee when you’re in pain, especially in unfamiliar territory. We have some tips to help you make the most out of your summer vacation!
Signs You’re having a TMJ Flare-Up
- Persistent jaw joint pain
- Generalized jaw pain
- Constant headaches
- Clicking or popping noises whenever you move your jaw
- Ear, neck or shoulder pain
- Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears
- Muscle spasms making your eyes, cheek or neck twitch
- Swelling in your TMJs facial muscles
- A tight jaw when you try to open your mouth
Knowing what your triggers are can help you to avoid them or lessen their intensity and how long they last. Here are some things to watch out for as they can make your TMJs flare up.
Common Reasons Your TMJs Flare-Up
- Undue stress makes you clench your jaw and grind your teeth.
- Hormonal changes.
- Eating hard or chewy foods like bagels, whole apples, nuts and gum.
- Dehydration which lowers the lubrication of your joints.
- Bad posture that results in a misaligned spine, makes your lower jaw push forward and tenses the facial muscles.
- Tired or strained neck muscles affecting the muscles you use to speak, bite, breathe and chew.
- Certain medications.
- A vitamin deficiency causing muscle pain.
Treating TMJ Flare-Ups When You’re on Vacation
It’s easy to pack an ice or heat pack you can use on the painful joints on your neck, temples, and/or facial muscles should your TMJ’s act up. No matter whether you are driving, flying or sailing on a cruiseship, you can ease jaw pain by relaxing your jaw muscles with gentle massages and exercises that boost blood flow and diminish pain.
Whether you’re staying in a hotel or a cabin in the woods, sleep on your back with a pillow to support your head and neck to avoid stressing your jaw. Traveling can be stressful until you get to your destination, so practice some simple deep breathing, meditation or stretching exercises along the way. Over-the-counter medications are a quick way to lower inflammation and dull jaw pain so keep some on hand in your travel pack.
We all love to enjoy local foods on vacations, but if you’re jaw is hurting, stick to soft foods to give your TMJ’s a break. Soft foods are available in every country and climate. Think pasta, rice, stews, soups, smoothies and bite-sized juicy fruit and cut-up vegetables (cucumber, tomatoes, watermelon and cantaloupe) are often readily available during the summer season. Drink plenty of water while limiting caffeine and alcohol to help your jaws joints stay lubricated.
Can you still have a wonderful time on your summer getaway even if your TMJ’s flare up? Be mindful of these precautions to help avoid a flare-up or manage one that shows up while you are traveling. And if you are looking for help with your TMJ/TMD issues, we welcome you to schedule an appointment with our team so you can make the most out of your daily life. You deserve to be free from chronic pain!