TMJ symptoms can have a serious negative affect on your life. Jaw pain, headaches and muscle spasms can make chewing and talking unbearable. And some of your daily habits could be making your symptoms worse.
Are any of these five habits a problem for you? They could be causing or exacerbating your painful TMJ symptoms.
1. Teeth Grinding
Grinding your teeth while you sleep is destructive, but you may not even know you’re doing it. Teeth grinding can cause TMJ.
Maybe you clench your jaw during the day as well. It could be the way your body responds to stress, or maybe you have an abnormal bite that makes it difficult to hold your teeth in the proper position.
Regardless of the reason, it’s best to address the behavior, because it can make TMJ escalate quickly. Talk to your dentist about getting a mouthguard. Cut down on your caffeine intake. Practice relaxation techniques and deep-breathing exercises.
2. Lip Chewing or Biting
If you chew or bite your lip or the inside of your cheek, you’re constantly moving your jaw out of position. This isn’t good for TMJ.
Keep a log of this habit and every time you catch yourself, write it down. Replace it with another behavior, such as squeezing a stress ball.
3. Biting Objects
Continually biting your fingernails, the end of a pencil or any other object also isn’t good for your teeth, and it isn’t healthy for your jaw. Your facial muscles need a chance to rest. If you’re overworking them on objects you shouldn’t be biting in the first place, you’re going to see your symptoms worsen.
Again, try to correct these bad habits and find a new, healthy way to unleash energy.
4. Bad Posture
Do you slouch? Do you bend over your computer all day at work? You’ll feel tightness in your neck, shoulders and back, and that will affect your jaw muscles too.
If you work in an office, try to stand up and move around at least once every hour. Purchase a lumbar-supporting pillow and make sure your computer screen is at eye level so you don’t have to crane your neck many hours of the day.
5. Taking Large Bites of Tough Foods
Do you love thick steaks and crunchy snacks? If you eat large bites of your favorite foods and tax your jaw’s chewing power, you could hurt yourself!
Cut your food up into manageable pieces and try to eat softer foods if TMJ is an issue for you.
Treating the Source of the Problem
You can talk with us at Northeast Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery when you have TMJ symptoms you can’t overcome. Our surgical treatment options are usually offered after patients have exhausted other avenues; we welcome you to schedule a consultation and talk about it with our experienced team.