Does Lifestyle Impact TMJ?
An unhealthy lifestyle can impact TMJ and in severe cases, it can lead to dysfunction. So don’t ignore it if your TMJ is getting serious. Come to Koala® Centers For Sleep & TMJ Disorders for comprehensive treatment. For more information, call us or visit us online to book an appointment. We have convenient locations across the U.S. in Bloomington IL, Peoria/Dunlap IL, Lafayette IN, Mishawaka IN, Kansas City MO, El Paso TX and Wausau WI.
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The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a complex joint that enables the jaw with its full range of motion and crushing power. It is considered a condyloid joint, as it has a protuberance that sits inside an ellipsoidal cavity; it is also a synovial joint, as it is sheathed in a fluid-filled and highly lubricated membrane. It is located in the lower jaw and composed of two main bones, the jawbone, or mandible, and the temporal bone, which articulate biaxially, enabling flexion/extension and abduction/adduction (and therefore also circumduction—circular motion of a joint).
The temporomandibular joint, commonly referred to as the TMJ, is the joint that articulates the jaw, and, due to its complexity and high use, is a common site of pain or dysfunction. Problems with this joint are known as TMJ disorder, or TMD for short; it can be caused by many factors, such as lifestyle, diet, trauma, disease and other health conditions.
Dysfunction in the TMJ can lead to a variety of symptoms including headaches, neck pain, earaches, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and difficulty opening the mouth. The temporomandibular joint is connected to facial muscles that control chewing and swallowing. Diet can affect this function, as well as certain habits such as nail-biting. Therefore, a person’s lifestyle has a significant impact on their temporomandibular joint.
Dysfunction with the temporomandibular joint, that is, any problems with the jaw, including pain or crepitation (popping or clicking sound) when opening or closing the mouth, or limited range of motion, can impede upon an individual’s ability to live a good quality of life. Fortunately, many TMJ problems respond well to lifestyle changes and home remedies, such as becoming aware of tension-related habits like jaw clenching, teeth grinding, nail-biting or chewing on pens or pencils—this can place unnecessary stress on the TMJ, resulting in pain and limited function. Sticky or chewy foods, like candy, dense bread or dried fruit, can overstrain the jaw muscles, leading to discomfort; the same is true for chewing gum.
Stretching and massaging the TMJ can help to reduce symptoms when they flare up, but it should be noted that improper stretching or massage techniques could cause further damage to the TMJ and an exacerbation of symptoms, so these exercises should only be performed when prescribed by a doctor, dentist or physical therapist. Furthermore, hot/cold therapy may be utilized to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.
If changing your habits or diet, or other home remedies were not sufficient enough to ameliorate your TMJ symptoms, there are other noninvasive therapies that can help. Dentists can prescribe custom-designed oral splints or mouth guards (occlusal appliances) to help people with jaw pain find relief. A dentist can also prescribe physical therapy exercises to stretch and strengthen the jaw muscles.
In mild and minor cases, lifestyle changes are often enough to provide relief from TMJ dysfunction; these include the following:
– Reduce stress through daily meditation and yoga
– Do not overstrain or overwork the jaw; avoid chewing gum and tough foods
– Utilize personally prescribed exercises to strengthen the jaw muscles and increase its range of motion
– Apply an ice pack or a moist, warm cloth to reduce jaw swelling and face pain
– Eat soft foods when symptoms flare up
The dental team at Koala® Centers For Sleep & TMJ Disorders are here to help you find the best ways to naturally relieve TMJ discomfort and improve your jaw health. Call us today to book an appointment with our TMJ specialists, or visit one of our locations: we serve patients from all across the United States.