Got a Wrench in Your Clench?: How to Prevent TMJ painSeptember 22, 2015
Habits Leading to TMJ
Do you ever find yourself clenching your jaw when you’re stressed out? Or maybe you’ve discovered that you grind your teeth at night? These habits can unfortunately lead to jaw pain, earaches, jaw clicking, headaches, and neck pain, problems that can potentially plague your ability to do everyday things and add to your medical bills. The body part that suffers in these instances is called the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, which connects your jawbone to your skull.
Indication of TMJ
The muscles attached to your jaw can easily tighten up, causing facial pain and headaches. The muscle imbalance may lead to an inability to open your mouth wide enough to eat. If you cannot fit the width of three fingers in your mouth, this may be an indication of decreased range of motion of your TMJ.
In most cases, the TMJ pain and dysfunction can be prevented. Here are some helpful tips to reduce stress on your jaw:
Reduce/eliminate habits such as gum chewing, resting your chin on fist, thumb sucking, and mouth breathing
Resting Position of the Jaw
Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth. This reduces compression and stress on the TMJ. The author of this blog finds it very helpful when she feels road rage coming on.
If you’re a teeth grinder, your dentist may be able to provide you with a custom splint or mouth guard to prevent this habit from wearing down your jaw.
If your jaw feels sore, often times eating softer foods and applying ice packs directly onto the joint will help reduce your symptoms.
If symptoms persist, contact your physician regarding further care. Physical therapy can help reduce tension in your jaw muscles, gently help re-align the TMJ, and eliminate pain.