Say this one five times fast: Temporomandibular joint dysfunction. It’s a fairly common problem affecting the chewing muscles and joints connecting your lower jaw to your skull that can cause serious jaw pain. So, what can you do to make sure you don’t get it? The same things you can do on your own at home to help ease its impact if you do have it. We recently chatted about this on one of our most recent installments of our Health Happens, our weekly Facebook Live show. Let’s take a look, but first, how do you know if you have it?
- Jaw pain
- Pain in one or both temporomandibular joints
- Aching pain in or around your ear
- Difficulty chewing
- Facial pain
- Locking of the joint
9 Ways to Prevent and Ease the Effects of TMD
- Stop biting your nails!
- Also, lay off the gum. Then, and this one may be harder for you to notice that you’re doing it, but try to be more aware of when you’re clenching and grinding your teeth so you don’t do that so much.
- Where is your tongue? When you’re not talking the tip of your tongue should be at the roof of your month. (That means even when you yawn – keep the tongue up on the roof of your mouth.)
- Make sure your teeth aren’t touching. They should be at least a couple millimeters apart.
- Breath through your nose and keep your lips together.
- Don’t sleep on your stomach.
- Don’t rest your chin in your hands.
- Avoid hard, crunchy foods.
- Avoid big bites. Cut your food into smaller bites.
Most TMD cases can be treated with self-care, according to the Mayo Clinic. You should consult with your health care provider or dentist to be sure that your symptoms are caused by TMD and if you can’t open or close your mouth completely or if the pain persists for a lengthy period of time. And according the National Institutes of Health, the most important tip is to start your treatment conservatively instead of jumping right into non-reversible treatments such as surgery and shaving of teeth (ouch!).