If you are suffering jaw pain related to TMJ, it’s time to take a look at what you’re doing that could be making it worse. Many of the bad habits that do daily could be making your jaw pain worse. The best place to start for TMJ treatment is to stop doing things that might be making it worse.

Man putting out a cigarette on the sidewalk

Smoking

Does Smoking make your jaw hurt? It may seem like smoking couldn’t hurt your jaw. After all, you’re barely using your jaw muscles. But research has shown that smokers are at a higher risk for chronic pain conditions, including TMJ than nonsmokers. Smoking and TMJ go hand in hand. If you’re wondering does smoking make TMJ worse? The answer is yes! So, if you needed another reason to finally push you over into quitting, there it is. Once you quit smoking, then you have to work to repair the damage your temporomandibular joints and teeth experienced. This will include TMJ treatment in addition to reconstructive or cosmetic dentistry treatments.

Nervous Chewing of Nonfood

Putting something in our mouth when we’re nervous, stressed, or bored is something we all unconsciously do. There are many things that people chew, such as your nails, pen tops, pencils, paper clips. Look around your house and chances are you’ll find the evidence of this bad habit if you have it.

But chewing on nonfood not only puts stress on your dental enamel, but it also stresses your jaw joint and jaw muscles, leading to pain.

Using Your Teeth as Tools

Closely related to chewing nonfood is using your teeth in ways that you shouldn’t. You shouldn’t use them for anything but eating! You might use them as scissors, pliers, bottle openers, nutcrackers, or icebreakers. The force required for these tasks can put stress on teeth, your jaw joint, and your jaw muscles.

Opening Your Mouth Too Wide

man opening wide to eat a sandwichSometimes we overextend our jaw when there’s no need. Yawning is natural, but you may be opening your mouth too wide when you yawn. Try to pay attention when you yawn and don’t open your mouth more than necessary. Also don’t make food that’s too tall to bite into, like a Dagwood sandwich.

Not Cutting up Food

If you’re taking too large bites of food, you could be forcing yourself to chew too much. Chewing is the process of taking food from large pieces to small pieces.

“By cutting your food into smaller pieces, you are saving your jaw some of the work, so your muscles are less stressed.”

You might think your jaw pain is nothing serious and will pass, and usually, it does. But if your pain doesn’t get better after a few days, or if it recurs regularly, you may need professional help. To learn more about TMJ treatment in Orange County, please call (949) 551-5902 for an appointment at Rice Dentistry.