August 15, 2023
When you find out that you have a TMJ disorder, your natural response is to take whatever steps you can to put a stop to your pain. Obviously, this means seeking professional treatment that addresses the underlying cause of the disorder; however, it’s also important to make sure that you aren’t doing anything that could potentially make the problem worse. Below are 4 examples of what not to do if you are suffering from a TMJ disorder.
1. Chew Gum
While chewing gum can potentially help you relieve stress, it can also cause you to overwork your jaw joints – which is one of the last things you should be doing when you have a TMJ disorder. It’s best to avoid gum entirely while you’re suffering from jaw pain; the same goes for any sort of food that may require an excessive amount of chewing.
2. Bite Down on Inedible Objects
Plenty of people end up chewing on pen tips, fingernails, and other hard objects without really thinking about it. The more often you bite down on things that aren’t food, the more stress you put on your TMJ, thus potentially making your symptoms worse. Try to be mindful of your everyday habits, and make an effort to stop yourself if you find yourself biting or chewing when you don’t need to.
3. Chew on One Side of Your Mouth
Your jaw joints are meant to work together to help you chew your food. However, some people are in the habit of chewing on only one side of their mouths. This can lead to one of the TMJs being exposed to an excessive amount of stress. Pay attention to the way you chew your food, and make an effort to use both sides of your mouth as evenly as possible.
What does your posture have to do with your jaw pain? More than you might think. Slouching can potentially lead to spine misalignment, which in turn can cause your lower jaw to move slightly forward; this often results in bite problems that could contribute to a TMJ disorder. As part of your efforts to relieve your jaw pain, you should try to maintain an upright posture that keeps your head above your spine.
TMJ disorder can be quite painful, but it can absolutely be managed as long as you practice the right habits and seek professional care as soon as possible. Be sure to talk to a dentist who is trained in treating TMJ disorders to see if they recommend making any other changes to your lifestyle in order to keep your jaw pain under control.
About the Author
Dr. Kinnari Jariwala is a member of the American Academy of Craniofacial Pain, the New Mexico Dental Association, and a number of other professional organizations. She greatly enjoys being able to help her patients find relief from TMJ disorder via oral appliance therapy and other forms of treatment. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Jariwala at Center for Dental Sleep Medicine and TMJ of New Mexico in Albuquerque, visit her website or call (505) 433-2107.
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