The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint that connects your lower jaw to your skull in front of your ears. In other words, this is the joint that allows you to open and close your mouth smoothly. Unfortunately, the muscles in this joint can be injured, making it difficult to perform ordinary tasks with your mouth, like speaking, eating, yawning, etc.
A TMJ disorder, commonly referred to as TMD, can occur when you sustain a jaw injury, inflammations like arthritis, or overuse of the joint. Therefore, it is important to know what causes a TMD and how you can prevent it. This article talks about the prevention of TMJ disorders.
Common Symptoms of TMD
A TMD can manifest itself in many ways. Sometimes it will cause mild symptoms and other times the symptoms will be debilitating. Also, not every pain or discomfort in your jaw means you have a TMD. Here are some of the main symptoms of TMD:
- Pain while chewing
- Pain in the ear, face, jaw, and neck
- Clicking, grating, or popping sounds in your jaw when you open or close your mouth
- Locking of the jaw joint
How to Prevent TMD
There are many ways to prevent TMJ pain. Apart from soothing your TMD with physical therapy, there are several other things you can do on your own to avoid the pain. Some of these methods will require you to make significant behavioral changes in your daily life, while others will prompt you to take things slow for a while and find a way to relieve yourself of stress. Here are some of the most effective ways to prevent TMD:
- Avoid stress: Stress is known to be a major contributing factor in TMJ disorder. This occurs when you clench the jaw or grind the teeth repeatedly due to anxiety. Therefore, you need to find ways to get rid of stress. For example, you can meditate, do yoga, and get a massage to help you relax.
- Don’t overuse your jaw: You need to quit some chewing habits that can contribute to the overuse and stress of your jaw muscles, like chewing gum for hours. Also, don’t chew hard foods for a long time or too fast because you will injure your temporomandibular muscles.
- Stretch your jaw: Try several gentle jaws stretches to increase mobility in the joint.
- Eat softer foods: You should give your jaw a break from chewing and grinding hard food by eating softer foods once in a while.
- Seek help: Don’t hesitate to ask for help from a physical therapist if you suspect that you have TMD.
For more information on the prevention of TMJ disorder, get in touch with STL Oral Surgery today.