We are used to making certain facial movements like chewing, smiling, talking, and laughing naturally without thinking about it. However, if you ever experience difficulties or discomfort performing these simple movements, there’s certainly something amiss. Most probably, you might have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ).
TMJ disorders are a group of conditions that affect the bones and muscles of the jaw. They cause great pain or stiffness in the joint that connects the jaw to the skull – the joint allows you to open and close your mouth naturally. You can experience mild to moderate to severe discomfort depending on the condition. Chewing, swallowing, grinding, or clenching teeth worsen the symptoms.
Fortunately, there are certain remedies you can use to manage the symptoms of TMJ disorders. Below are several tips for managing and treating TMJ at home without invasive treatments like surgery. Contact our dentist for TMJ treatment in Andover, ON.
Tips to Treat TMJ Disorders at Home
- Minimize wide jaw movements – TMJ pain can be worsened by movements like chewing, yawning, yelling, bruxism, and laughing. To reduce the discomfort, minimize wide jaw movements and keep your jaw muscles as relaxed as possible.
- Correct your posture – certain unideal postures can worsen your TMJ symptoms. Choose a quality chair with good back support when working for long hours. Also, take frequent breaks. When driving, ensure your seat is as upright as possible. Whether you’re standing or seated, focus on proper spinal alignment. Raise your chest bone and pull your shoulders back to exercise realignment exercises. Next, squeeze your shoulder blades and straighten your back muscles.
- Get restful sleep – sleep is important for your overall health. Try sleeping on your back and supporting your neck with soft pillows to alleviate TMJ symptoms. Don’t place your hand on the jaw if you sleep on your side. Avoid sleeping on your stomach.
Similarly, aim to sleep for at least eight hours and have a sleep schedule. To be consistent with your schedule, avoid sugary and caffeinated items. Strenuous physical activities like exercises before bed can also affect your sleep. Performing breathing exercises and meditation before bed can help calm your mind and make you sleep better.
- Use a cold or hot compress – ice packs are great remedies for pain and inflammation. To minimize TMJ pain, wrap an ice pack with a clean towel and place it on the affected area. Repeat this in intervals of about 15 minutes until you find relief. Heat compress increases blood flow and helps relax jaw muscles, alleviating TMJ pain and stiffness. Don’t use too much heat to avoid burning your face.
- Manage stress and anxiety – while it might look unrelated, research has established a strong link between TMJ and anxiety. While it’s impossible to forget about all your worries, breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga practices can help. They will help calm your mind and face and alleviate TMJ discomfort.
- Jaw exercises – jaw exercises are highly effective in relaxing and increasing joint mobility. Since there are many exercises, you can consult your doctor about which exercises to perform. Our Andover dentist can help you design specialized jaw exercises to manage your condition.
- Avoid bad habits – certain bad habits can cause or worsen TMJ symptoms. Such habits include:
- Clenching and grinding teeth
- Clenching jaw muscles
- Resting your jaw in the hand
- Chewing hard items
- Chewing gum
- Chewing large bites of foods
When to Seek Professional Help
While the tips discussed above can help manage or treat TMJ disorders, it’s important to seek professional diagnosis and treatment, especially if you have moderate to severe discomfort. The dentist will try to establish the underlying cause and design customized treatment strategies to manage and treat your condition effectively.
The doctor or dentist can refer you to a physical therapist to improve your jaw flexibility and strength. For professional and timely treatment for your TMJ, contact Andover Cosmetic Dental Group.