LOL, OMG, ONYD, are all acronyms that are there to make you laugh out loud. But there are some acronyms that are less funny; enter TMJ. As a condition that causes the temporomandibular joint, which is the joint where your jaw bones connect, to become irritated and inflamed, TMJ can make everyday tasks like chewing or even opening your mouth wide enough to yawn to become painful. Luckily, by making a few lifestyle changes and practicing massage, you can often find relief from your symptoms. But did you know that in some cases you may be making them worse?
Stay Away from Stress
There’s no doubt about it; it can seem impossible to avoid stress— after all, life itself is stressful. Stress isn’t just bad for your anxiety— it’s bad for your heart and, you guessed it, your TMJ. Most patients who have TMJ clench their jaw when they are stressed which causes more tension and discomfort in the process. To help relieve stress, try taking up a calming activity like yoga. Deep breathing techniques will help alleviate your stress and jaw pain.
Get Rid of Gum
Chewing gum is good at helping patients get rid of plaque and tartar, but if you have TMJ, it can be enemy number one. By placing a lot of tension and pressure on your TMJ, chewing gum can make your symptoms worse by causing pain, inflammation, and even the inability to fully open and close your mouth. If you’re looking for a way to freshen up your breath, skip the gum and try sugar-free mints instead.
Break Out of Bruxism
Bruxism, or jaw grinding, is a condition that most people do in their sleep. If you wake up with a sore or tense jaw, you likely are a tooth grinder which can contribute to your TMJ pain. Luckily, in most cases, by making a simple change like wearing a mouthguard to bed, you can help cut down on your bruxism.