November is TMJ awareness month. Your temporomandibular joint connects your jawbone to the rest of your skull. When you chew or speak, it gets a workout!
Preventing TMJ Dysfunction
According to the Cleveland Clinic, it’s possible to prevent TMJ disfunction or to slow the progression of the disorder with lifestyle changes.
- Practicing proper posture can strengthen your back and neck and relieve pressure on the joint.
- Wearing a mouthguard during contact sports can prevent injury to your teeth and jaw.
- Treating bruxism (tooth grinding) helps you avoid the force and motion that damages the joint.
- Relieving stress and anxiety prevents jaw clenching and unhealthy joint and muscle movements.
The first three items on this list are pretty straightforward, but how can you reduce stress in your life? If you knew how, wouldn’t you have already done it?
Real-World Stress Relief Tips
So many stress-relief tips don’t take into account how most people live their lives. We’re all trying to balance work, family, friends, chores, and community. We never have enough time in a day. Trying to squeeze in another task, like ‘learning mindfulness’, just adds more stress. Here are some of our favorite stress-relievers that use the time you already have.
- Replace Anger with laughter. Are you reading political websites and posts all the time? Do you spend a lot of time watching 24-hour news? These media forms are designed to keep you angry and stressed out, and that’s bad for your TMJ. Instead, use your “angry news time” for things that make you laugh.
- Get a little midday sunshine or even clouds. People need natural light and time outside. Make a habit of stepping outside on your lunch break, even if it’s just for a minute or two. You’ll reset your brain and reduce stress.
- Protect your bedtime. Yes, you’re busy. But skipping sleep cranks up your stress levels and increases pain and tension. It is OK to protect your sleep. You’ll be more productive and happier when you’ve rested.
- Recognize which stresses you can’t control and be conscious of how you react. If you’re stuck in a job you don’t like or have a dysfunctional family, you’re going to encounter a lot of stress on a given day. This is where being conscious of how you react can help protect your TMJ. In calm moments, practice relaxing your jaw muscles. Then, when you encounter stress, focus on keeping your jaw relaxed. No clenching, biting, or grinding. Over time, you’ll reduce stress on the joint and protect your health.
If genes aren’t on your side, you may experience TMJ pain despite fighting stress. If you frequently have jaw pain, call Ever Care! Our team can treat your TMJ and help you live pain-free.