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.
Nervous Chewing of Nonfood
One thing that many of us do absentmindedly is put something in our mouth when we’re nervous, stressed, or bored. 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, it 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 they were not meant to be used. 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.
Forcing Your Mouth Open Too Wide
Sometimes 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.
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. So, if you needed another reason to finally push you over into quitting, there it is.
Professional Care Can Help, Too
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.