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Friday, March 24, 2023

Living With TMJ (Coping Strategies And Self-Care Tips)

TMJ, also called “temporomandibular disorder,” is a condition that causes pain in the jaw. For some people, it is a minor annoyance, but for others, it can have a dramatic (and negative) impact on their lives.

The purpose of this post is to explore some coping strategies and self-care tips for dealing with TMJ. With the right approach, the condition is much more manageable than you might think.

 Find Ways To Better Manage Stress

Photo by kike vega on Unsplash

Unsurprisingly, stress is one of the main triggers of TMJ disorder flare-ups because it causes muscle tension in the face and neck. As soon as you feel tense, you start clenching, making the condition more likely to develop. 

For this reason, it’s a good idea to use healthy methods of dealing with stress. These could include:

  • Meditation
  • Breathing exercises
  • Listening to music
  • Reading
  • Talking to someone

Just play around and see which techniques work best for you. You want a sense of relaxation to come over your body.

Apply Heat Or Cold

Both heat and cold are excellent for TMJ. Heat can help relax the muscles and ease the pain, while cold can reduce swelling and inflammation.

Doctors and medics suggest placing a warm compress or heating pad on the affected area for up to 15 minutes, several times a day. Heat energy will modulate the immune response, tamping down inflammation.

You can also use cold peas from the freezer wrapped in a towel for 15 minutes, as before. But avoid applying heat or cold directly to your skin because it could damage it.

Visit Your Dentist

Photo by Caroline LM on Unsplash

Going to the dentist can also help manage your TMJ. Many practitioners are pain experts and provide a high level of care. The goal is to improve the functionality of your bite so you don’t wind up with the same unpleasant sensations as before. 

Try Various Mouth Exercises

You can also try exercising your mouth gently. Exercise can help strengthen your jaw muscles and improve their range of motion. They can also reduce stiffness and pain by increasing blood circulation to the area.

Good ways to perform exercises include:

  • Opening and closing your mouth slowly as wide as you comfortably can without pain or clicking
  • Moving your lower jaw from side to side without causing discomfort
  • Moving your lower jaw forward, moving the lower teeth in front of the upper teeth (or further in front than they already are if your upper teeth fall behind them)

Try Not To Grind Or Clench Your Teeth

Grinding and clenching your teeth can lead to worsening TMJ symptoms. Therefore, it's important to avoid this habit as much as possible.

Ask your dentist for a mouthguard at night to protect your teeth. These help spread the force more evenly, reducing the tension on the surrounding bones and joints, and protecting the teeth.

In summary, while TMJ can be challenging, there are many coping strategies and self-care tips that can help you manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life. Try them and see which works for you.

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