If you wake up with pain in your jaw and a headache, it’s likely that you have TMJ pain. TMJ pain is caused by TMD or temporomandibular joint disorder. This condition occurs in your jaw when the joints on the sides are not working properly. In younger patients, this can actually affect their jaw muscles and lead to further problems. Without treatment, it’s likely that in addition to pain, you will experience muscle spasm, changes in your tooth’s structure, arthritis, as well as trauma. Our Birmingham dentist at Maniscalco, DMD is here to provide you with helpful tips to avoid TMJ pain. Read on to find out how to eliminate this pain in your life.
Signs of TMJ
There are a few symptoms to watch out for that may indicate that you have TMJ.
- Discomfort when speaking or chewing
- Headaches, neck aches, pain in the jaw area, temples, ears
- Sound sensitivity
- Jaw clenching or teeth grinding that may lead to muscle spasms
- Clicks or other noises in your jaw
- Buzzing in your ear
Watch What You Eat
If you experience TMJ pain, one of the first ways to prevent it is by watching what you eat. You should always avoid eating hard foods like steak, raw vegetables, corn on the cob, chips and hard candies. Hard food or food that requires a lot of extra chewing can aggravate TMJ symptoms because it can inflame the joints. We also recommend steering clear of chewing gum. The more you use your jaw muscles, the more likely they will hurt. Now is the time to enjoy a soft diet with as many as liquids as possible. If you stick with a soft diet and notice your symptoms improve, you will now know how to control your pain.
Stay Away From Certain Drinks
Not only should you avoid certain foods, but there are also certain drinks that you should avoid in order to prevent TMJ pain. First, you should avoid caffeinated drinks because caffeine can actually encourage you to grind your teeth. When you grind or clench your teeth, this can put pressure on your jaw and as a result cause discomfort on your jaw.
Wear a Mouth Guard
Another way to avoid TMJ pain in your life is by wearing a mouth guard. Wearing a mouth guard when playing sports will protect your teeth and jaw from experiencing damage. In addition, if you tend to clench your teeth when playing sports, this will protect your teeth and jaw from damage and extra pressure.
Wear a Night Guard
In addition to wearing a mouth guard, a night guard can provide just as much TMJ pain relief. Most TMJ sufferers actually experience their pain because they grind or clench their teeth at night. When you wear a night guard, this protects your teeth from bruxism which takes the pressure off your jaw while you sleep. When you wear a night guard, you can expect to wake up free of jaw pain as well as tooth pain.
Another way to reduce the amount of TMJ pain in your life is by simply relaxing. Go take a walk, enjoy a warm cup of cocoa with a friend, watch a funny movie, do what you need to do to unwind when you’re feeling stressed. Stress is the number one cause of TMJ pain. When you feel stressed this can cause you to tense up your jaw and experience pain as a result.
Practice Good Posture
Another way to prevent TMJ pain that most of our patients don’t consider is to practice good posture. When you have proper posture this allows you to keep your body align including your jaw. Invest in ergonomic furniture to help you improve your posture and relieve your TMJ pain.
Stretch and Stay Active
Stretching is an easy way to relieve stress as well as feel relaxed. When you stretch your body feels good and therefore less inclined to clench your teeth together and hurt your jaw. Stretching regularly will help you take the pressure off your jaw. In addition, staying active is not only a great way to stay healthy but it helps relieve stress. Have you ever worked out for a few hours and then slept without moving all night? Including regular exercise in your life is the perfect way to relieve stress and prevent TMJ pain.
Don’t Use Your Mouth as a Tool
When you use your mouth as a tool, this can not only damage your teeth, but it can put pressure on your jaw which can lead to TMJ pain. Use scissors or a knife when you need to and leave your teeth to only chewing food. Teeth should not be used as a tool regardless if you have TMJ or not.
Visit Your Dentist for Treatment
There are several different treatments your dentist in Birmingham can provide you with to prevent TMJ pain. First, we can teach you different relaxation techniques to relax your jaw. We will give you all the information you need to learn more about stress relief techniques. Next, we may recommend orthodontics to prevent you from grinding your teeth as well as having muscle spasms. Orthodontics can help regulate your bite and take the pressure off unnecessary teeth.
Another way to prevent TMJ pain with treatment is with jaw exercises. We can give you exercises to practice at home as well as advise heat and ice treatments that can provide pain relief. These exercises can improve movement and reduce pain symptoms.
Treatment may also include surgery, steroids or even Botox to repair the joint or reduce inflammation. Lastly, we may prescribe pain medications to help relieve pain in your jaw.
Visit Us in Birmingham to Learn More
If you suffer from TMJ pain in Birmingham, what are you waiting for? Visit our TMJ dentist in Birmingham at Maniscalco, DMD to find the relief you’re looking for. Give us a call or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation today.