The temporomandibular joint is like a hinge that connects your jawbone and skull. Several important ligaments and muscle groups attach to it, many of which loop around into the shoulders and the back of the neck. What this means is that, when it malfunctions, the effects can be felt in many different parts of the body.
While the most common symptoms of TMJ are jaw pain accompanied by clicking noises, many other less common symptoms such as, frequent headaches, loss of sleep, tingling in the fingers, and others, can manifest, and shouldn’t be ignored. TMJ is a progressive disorder that can worsen over time, especially if you continually do things to aggravate the joint.
Whether you’ve recently begun treatment or are considering getting a checkup, here are four do’s and don’ts of TMJ.
Don’t Chew Gum
Habitually chewing gum with TMJ is like trying to run a marathon with a torn ligament. While it may not seem detrimental at first, chewing gum is incredibly hard on the temporomandibular joint, as it has to continually work for an extended period of time to open and close the mouth. It also stresses imbalanced muscles. Worse, chewing gum only gives your jaw a limited range of motion.
Do Try Exercises
Just as the plank is good for you abdomen, jaw exercises are good for your joint. To start off, try simple chin tucks. Clasp your hands behind your back, straighten your shoulders, and gently tuck your chin to your chest for a count of ten. Advance a level by placing your thumb gentle under your chin, and opening your mouth slowly while gentle offering resistance with your thumb.
Don’t Drink Too Much Alcohol
Like any injured muscle or ligament, inflammation is the body’s standard response. This is no different in the temporomandibular joint. Unfortunately, though, inflammation decreases blood flow to a particular area, making it more difficult for your body to heal. Much like smoking, alcohol significantly increases inflammation in the body, lengthening the healing period.
Do Eat a Balanced Diet
Eating a diet high in vegetables and fiber can cut back inflammation in the entire body. Consuming more than the recommended amount of added sugars can increase inflammation, and the likelihood of heart attack and stroke. In general, cutting sugar and eating more vegetables is good for your mouth and the rest of your body.
If you’ve been suffering from TMJ for awhile, it may be time to schedule an appointment. Working with your dentist to treat TMJ can be incredibly beneficial for your jaw and quality of life.
If you’re having TMJ problems, give us a call at (907) 349-0022 or contact us to let us at Excellence in Dentistry help today!