Only those with TMJ or TMJ-like symptoms can properly understand how painful it can be. When a partner or friend complains about tension in their jaw or muscle soreness, it can be easy to think, how bad can it be? That’s because the temporomandibular joint and its relationship to the larger muscular structure of our body can be widely misunderstood.
The joint connects your jaw to your skull. It’s a very complicated joint, flexible in many dimensions. The joint is located at the body’s busiest crossroads, where nerves, blood vessels, and delicate structures meet. The muscles that move your jaw partner with other muscles in the head, neck and shoulders. When this joint malfunctions, it can disrupt several other structures in the head, causing issues like tinnitus (ringing in the ears), migraines or tension headaches, and even dizziness. You may experience these symptoms along with jaw pain. Or sometimes they occur without any jaw-related symptoms.
If you suffer from TMJ and are looking for ways to relieve your pain, this blog is for you.
Cut Out the Bad Habits
For those with mild to severe pain, cutting out bad habits can go a long way in terms of recovery. Gum chewing and smoking are two of the most common habits to cut. Although gum chewing can sometimes provide temporary pain relief, in the end, it will cause more damage. This can make it difficult for your jaw to heal itself. Chewing gum with TMJ is similar to running a 5k with a sprained ankle. Instead of allowing your body the time it needs to repair itself, chewing gum can continually undermine that process. The same goes for smoking.
One of the biggest roadblocks to healing is inflammation. While inflammation is our body’s natural response to injury, and can be helpful when faced with infection, inflammation can also halt the body’s ability to heal itself by cutting off blood flow — which is why ice packs are always used for sprained ankles! The chemicals in smoking have been known to cause low-grade inflammation throughout the body every time you light up.
Like gum, eating foods that are particularly hard to chew during a TMJ flare-up can aggravate your condition, extending your discomfort. If your jaw has been hurting for a week or longer, try swapping out foods like hard bread, apples, undercooked meat, or anything else that requires your jaw to work. It also may be helpful to consider an anti-inflammatory diet, focused on limiting foods known to increase the body’s inflammatory response, such as alcohol, and foods high in sugar or simple carbohydrates. Fish, turmeric, ginger, and broccoli or other dark green vegetables can provide an anti-inflammatory response.
Visit Your Local Dentist
Changing habits and being mindful of what goes into your body is a great start to TMJ pain relief, but if you’ve been living with TMJ pain for far too long, then it’s time to schedule an appointment. Though many don’t know this, your dentist can provide you with several drug-free options for controlling your TMJ symptoms. Custom-made mouth splints designed to cut down teeth grinding, and allow your jaw to heal, can go a long way in relieving symptoms, kick starting your road to recovery.
If you’re looking for TMJ treatment in Philadelphia, call us at (610) 200-6290 to make an appointment or request an appointment online. If you have any questions about TMJ treatment, don’t hesitate to call or email us.