7 Things to Stop Doing if You Have TMJ Pain

7 Things to Stop Doing if You Have TMJ Pain

Health & Wellness
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The temporomandibular joint, also known as TMJ, is the joint that connects your jaw to your skull. If the TMJ is inflamed, you may have trouble doing simple tasks like eating, drinking, or even talking. Things like teeth grinding will make the condition worse. Today, we’ll explore what to avoid if you are going through TMJ pain treatment.

7 Things to Avoid if You Have TMJ Pain

1. Say No to Chewing Gum

Your jaw is the most used joint in the body. Every time you eat, you use your jaw. When you have TMJ disorder, you have to limit the use of the jaw joint and adjoining muscles. You need to keep the pressure off of them and rest your jaw. Chewing gum would do the opposite where the jaw is constantly working. By chewing gum, you’re at risk of making your muscles more sore.

2. Avoid Non-Functional Jaw Activities

There are certain activities that you may use your jaw for, either out of habit or unconsciously. For instance, you may chew on a pen while reading or bite your nails.

Avoid doing such non-functional jaw activities. Be conscious of your actions, and you may find some TMJ pain relief.

3. Don’t Place Your Head on Your Chin

Do not rest your head in your hands on the chin while studying or watching TV. While it may be a comfortable position, it can affect your jaw. The offset load against the side of the jaw may push against the joint. This may move the joint’s disc out of place and cause pain when the jaw opens or closes.

4. Do Not Chew on Just One Side

Chewing on only one side of the mouth puts stress on the TMJ and surrounding muscles. This leads to pain and joint dysfunction. Be aware of your chewing habits and make sure to chew food on both sides of the mouth.

5. Stop Clenching and Grinding Teeth

You may unconsciously grind your teeth during the day or while sleeping. This can aggravate TMJ pain as teeth clenching can place a lot of stress through the jaw’s muscles. One way to stop grinding teeth is by using a mouthguard when you sleep.

6. Do Not Slouch

Your posture also makes a huge impact on TMJ pain. Your jaw operates best when the head is situated above the cervical spine, and when the posture is upright. When you slouch or have an improper posture, it changes the way your jaw muscles open and close.

Correct your posture and strengthen your back and shoulder muscles. This will give you jaw pain relief. Avoid slouching to keep your jaw operating properly.

7. Don’t Delay Treatment

Don’t wait for TMJ pain to go away because it won’t resolve without medical intervention. Go to a doctor or orthodontist as soon as you can. In most cases, TMJ is non-progressive and has a good recovery rate with conservative treatment, but you should seek treatment without any delay.

What Not to Eat

Some foods to avoid with TMJ include chewy and hard foods that will put extra strain on your jaw. They include:

Nuts
Raw vegetables
Steak
Chips
Crunchy fruits
Pretzels
Ice
Crunchy Cereal
Candies

What to Eat Instead

Below are some foods to eat with TMJ. The softer the food you consume, the better it is for your jaw.

Mashed potatoes
Fish
Soft fruits like bananas and berries
Scrambled eggs
Dairy foods
Rice
Steamed vegetables

To help with jaw pain while eating, apply moist heat before meals to loosen the jaw muscles. If your jaw starts hurting while eating, take a break to get some TMJ relief, apply heat once more, and try to eat again. TMJ disorders are quite painful, but you can minimize the pain by taking certain precautions and changing your common lifestyle habits.

Find a specialist to help with TMJ pain here.

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Shen Chao is part of Joshua Hong DDS. While working for the Smile Clinic, he’s gained firsthand experiences into the questions and concerns that dental patients have. He has been writing to inform people about various dental topics to help his readers improve their oral health. When he’s not working, you can find him on a hiking trail with his dog or having a Sunday cook-out with friends.