In America alone, about 12% of all people experience TMJ pain. If you are one of them, you’re probably incredibly cognizant that handling the pain can feel impossible. Although treatment is the best (long-term) option, there are some simple things you can fix and manage in your daily life to help.
DON’T: Cover up your TMJ pain. Although pain killers are helpful in the short term, because of the fact that Tylenol Ibuprofen and Advil tend to not work well, people turn to prescription pain medication, which not only doesn’t help in the long term, can actually make matters, and the ACTUAL PAIN, worse in the long term, while the underlying issue is still rampant.
DO: Pay attention to yourself and your needs and take care of them. Don’t ignore your TMJ pain and what causes it. Whether this is being mindful of your posture (a huge cause of TMJ and can also be behind TMJ pain flare ups.) Posture is ONLY self-corrected and although difficult to retrain the body after years and years of subconsciously teaching it bad posture habits, being mindful throughout the day (especially when at a desk) can greatly help. Be careful how you’re relaxing (try to avoid resting your head/ face against your hand, for example). Also important is BEING MINDFUL OF HOW YOU SLEEP. TMJ pain tends to be the worst at the beginning and end of the day, so sleeping positions are incredibly important.
DON’T: Do things that are difficult on your jaw, such as biting your nails, chewing your pen cap, eating ice, or any other unnecessary stress on the teeth and jaw. The movement of the jaw related to any of these items (moving forward and backwards) along with the hard texture of them, can not only cause your TMJ pain to act up, but can even worsen the underlying issues.
DO: Be conscious of what you’re eating. Some raw vegetables, such as carrots and corn on the cob, can cause immense pain for DAYS. When cooking, try to be conscious of your TMJ Disorder, and incorporate softer foods, such as mashed potatoes, soft bread and cooked vegetables.
DON’T: Clench your jaw. Just like posture, especially in times of aggravation, stress, anxiety, or even out of habit, people often find themselves holding a lot of tension in their jaw, which is a quick and certain way to exacerbate your TMJ pain. Throughout the day, consciously try to keep your teeth apart, your lips together, and your tongue relaxed in your mouth.
Even through TMJ treatment, these easy tasks can make life so much more enjoyable and manageable; however, seeing a TMJ expert is prudent to the diagnosing and treatment of your TMD. Dr. Sid Solomon is a neuromuscular dentist of thirty years, and is dedicated to helping people who are suffering from TMJ Disorder find hope and the pain free life they deserve. Call today at 310-475-5598 to book an appointment at one of three of our convenient offices!