Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ) is a disorder which involves the muscles and joints around the jaw. It is actually quite a common issue, and many people just do not realize they are suffering from it. TMJ tends to start as a clicking noise when chewing or yawning. Other symptoms can include jaw tenderness, aching pain in, or around the ear, facial aching/pain, and difficulty opening or closing of the mouth due to joint locking. It can be caused by stress, teeth grinding (which generally occurs when one is sleeping), arthritis, or even chewing gum which may overwork the muscles in the jaw. While practicing good oral hygiene is highly important to maintain and beneficial to overall dental health, it won’t prevent TMJ. TMJ is mostly caused by things within our control there are certain steps people can take to help prevent it. Here are five ways in which you can prevent TMJ pain.
Apply Heat or Cold
If you feel any sort of tenderness or pain, you can apply moist heat or cold to help alleviate some of the discomforts. The heat will help to relax and loosen up your muscles, but it is important not to overdo this otherwise your symptoms may actually be exacerbated.
Stretch and Massage the Muscles
There are certain stretching exercises to do every day which can help loosen tight muscles in the jaw. Your pawling dentist or physician can also show you how to properly massage the muscles yourself to relieve the tension that way. The problem areas to cause TMJ tend to be the neck, shoulders, and jaw, so it is also important to try and keep these areas from becoming tense in the first place.
Avoid Nervous Habits
If you have a nervous habit of biting nails, pens or even chewing gum, it is important to avoid that habit. These habits can strain the muscles even more and cause an increase in inflammation.
Consult Your Dentist
If you begin to feel any pain in this area, it is important not to ignore it. The pain could be from grinding your teeth in your sleep in which case your beekman dentist can prescribe you a splint to wear during the night. There are also dental specialists you can visit if the pain is persistent and worsening, or if an over-the-counter pain reliever does not suffice. These dental specialists will be able to help you discuss treatment options, more in-depth preventative measures, and figure out what specifically may be causing your TMJ.
Take Preventative Measures
Avoiding irritation of the muscles in the first place can be key in preventing TMJ. You can do this by taking smaller bites when eating and chewing slower. Taking small bites and slower chewing helps create less pressure on your jaw and therefore less inflammation. Also, avoid holding your phone between the neck and shoulders. Instead, hold it with your hands to avoid joint irritation. Also make sure to keep good posture, things like holding your head forward while looking at a computer all day, can be very stressful on the neck and facial muscles.
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