How would you feel when smiling or talking to people you love brings you pain? What would you do when chewing makes you grimace, and brushing makeup or shaving your face results in searing pain? Unfortunately, if you have TMJ disorder (TMJD), pain becomes a regular part of your day. Sometimes, the searing or electric-shock-like pain can even get worse due to specific triggers. We will look into the different TMJ pain triggers and popular TMJ home treatment options in our discussion below.
Hopefully, with our quick guide, you can improve how you manage your condition and get to enjoy some semblance of normalcy in your life.
What Does it Mean When You Have TMJD?
The temporomandibular joint disorder causes inflammation of the jaw nerves and muscles. Often, it causes varying symptoms, ranging from jaw and neck stiffness and facial and cervical pain. Sometimes, patients with TMJD also report additional symptoms such as:
- Difficulty chewing or moving the jaws
- Jaw locking when opening or closing the mouth
- Aching pain in or around the ears
- Tenderness of your jaw muscles
- Recurring and persistent headaches
TMJD Triggers You Should Look Out For
Usually, TMJ disorder doesn’t cause serious harm. However, it can cause debilitating impacts in your life. It also worsens if you get exposed to specific triggers like stress, poor sleeping habits, and chewing hard food products. Learn more about how each TMJD trigger works and how you can manage them with simple TMJ home treatment ideas and upper cervical care.
Stress and Its Effect on TMJD
TMJ disorders can stem from stress – both physical and mental. A fine example of physical stress that can cause TMJ disorder is a forceful impact on your neck or head. This injury can potentially affect the alignment of your spine and cause pinching or irritation of the nerves supplying sensation to the jaws.
Mental stress, on one hand, can also trigger TMJ disorder or TMJ pain flareups. Recently, a lot of people feel stressed out and anxious because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The turn of events has consequently caused an increase in upper cervical clinic visits as more and more patients to experience flare-ups of their painful disorders such as TMJ pain.
Mental stress can heavily impact your condition because it can reduce the quality of your sleep and decrease your pain tolerance. Stress can also prompt you to clench your teeth, further contributing to the pine.
Poor Sleeping Habits Can Cause Your More Pain
Undoubtedly, sleep plays a crucial role in maintaining optimal health. Sadly, some folks don’t get enough sleep due to various factors, including work, the noise level in a room, and room temperature.
Besides the quality of sleep, some folks are guilty of sleeping on their stomach, which puts the spinal column at risk of misalignment. It can also potentially put pressure on your jaw joints, causing more pain when you wake up in the morning.
As much as possible, you should work on your sleep hygiene and sleeping positions. We suggest using specialized tools like a mouthguard to prevent teeth grinding and lessen pressure on your jaws. You might also find it helpful to include an additional pillow for spine support while you sleep.
Even Yawning Can Worsen Your TMJD Flareups
Yawning is a natural response. It happens when you’re tired or bored. In some cases, you yawn when you see someone else yawn across the room. Studies add that yawning also occurs when your body attempts to wake itself. The reaction draws oxygen from the lungs and encourages flexion of your muscles and joints.
When you yawn, it’s good practice to limit mouth movement. This way, you don’t put too much strain on your TMJ. It can also help you prevent jaw locking. Besides controlling the size of your mouth’s opening, you might also find it helpful to position your tongue’s tip on the roof of the mouth.
Hard-to-chew Food Products Spell Trouble for TMJD Patients
Needless to say, chewing hard food items like steak or candy can aggravate your pain. It pushes your jaw to overexert itself and puts additional strain on the already inflamed joints. While you still experience TMJ pain, it’s a good idea to stick to a soft diet. Alternatively, you can try finding softer food alternatives for items that are too hard to chew.
Relief Options for TMJ Pain
If you quickly search for TMJ home treatment ideas, you will most likely come across several remedies ranging from:
- Doing gentle and guided neck exercises
- Applying stress management techniques
- Limiting harsh or sudden jaw movements
- Applying cold or heat on the affected areas, depending on the stage of the disorder
- Protecting the jaw from further injury by wearing a bite guard, especially before heading to bed
When done correctly, these practices can potentially manage your symptoms and reduce the discomfort you experience. However, if you’re looking for a more long-term and practical approach that can eliminate your TMJD symptoms, you might want to check out upper cervical care.
By receiving upper cervical chiropractic adjustments, you can restore your neck’s alignment and ease the tension on the inflamed jaw nerves and joints. As a result, you can potentially experience lasting relief from your symptoms, and you can finally enjoy smiling, talking, or eating once again.
Visit the nearest upper cervical chiropractic clinic if you can’t get your TMJ home treatment ideas to work. Find out more about upper cervical care and the benefits you can get from this approach today!