Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder affects the jaw joint and surrounding muscles, causing pain and discomfort. It can manifest as jaw stiffness, difficulty chewing, clicking or popping sounds in the jaw, and even headaches or earaches. TMJ disorder can significantly impact one's quality of life, making simple tasks like eating or speaking challenging.

At the International College of Cranio-Mandibular Orthopedics (ICCMO), we specialize in the TMJ TMD diagnosis and treatment. Our institute is dedicated to providing comprehensive care for patients suffering from TMJ-related issues, offering cutting-edge treatments and personalized solutions to alleviate discomfort and improve jaw function. In this blog, we will take a dig into some of the practices that can worsen TMJ disorder. 

Common Practices That Can Worsen TMJ Disorder

1. Stress

Stress is a major contributor to TMJ discomfort. When stressed, individuals tend to clench their jaw or grind their teeth, putting excessive pressure on the TMJ. This constant tension can exacerbate pain and inflammation in the joint.

2. Poor Posture

Poor posture, especially in the neck and shoulders, can affect the alignment of the jaw. Slouching or hunching over can lead to muscle imbalances and strain in the TMJ area, worsening symptoms of TMJ disorder.

3. Chewing Gum

Frequent chewing, especially of tough or sticky foods like gum, can strain the jaw muscles and exacerbate TMJ pain. It's best to avoid excessive gum chewing to reduce stress on the temporomandibular joint.

4. Caffeine and Alcohol

Both caffeine and alcohol can contribute to muscle tension and dehydration, which can aggravate TMJ symptoms. Limiting intake or opting for alternatives like herbal tea can help alleviate discomfort.

5. Hard Foods

Consuming hard or crunchy foods can put extra strain on the jaw joint, leading to increased pain and inflammation. Softening foods or cutting them into smaller pieces can make them easier to chew and reduce TMJ strain.

6. Poor Sleep Habits

Inadequate sleep or poor sleeping positions can contribute to TMJ issues. Sleeping on one side or with the neck in an awkward position can strain the jaw joint and exacerbate symptoms. Maintaining good sleep hygiene and using supportive pillows can help alleviate TMJ discomfort.

7. Inadequate Jaw Rest

Constantly talking, chewing, or clenching the jaw without giving it adequate rest can worsen TMJ symptoms. Taking breaks throughout the day to relax the jaw muscles and practicing jaw exercises can help prevent overuse and alleviate discomfort.

8. Overuse of Jaw

Excessive talking or singing, especially without proper vocal technique, can strain the jaw muscles and exacerbate TMJ pain. It's essential to practice good vocal hygiene and take breaks to rest the jaw when engaging in activities that require heavy use of the jaw muscles.

9. Lack of Proper Treatment

Ignoring TMJ symptoms or failing to seek appropriate treatment can lead to worsening of the condition over time. Consulting with a dentist or TMJ specialist can help identify the underlying causes of TMJ disorder and develop an effective treatment plan.

5 Signs You Might Have TMJ/TMD Disorder

  • Persistent Jaw Pain: One of the primary indicators of TMJ/TMD disorder is persistent jaw pain. This pain can manifest as a dull ache or a sharp, stabbing sensation in the jaw joint area. It may worsen when chewing, speaking, or yawning. Sometimes, the pain can even radiate to other parts of the face, neck, or shoulders. If you notice recurring discomfort in your jaw, it's essential to consult a healthcare professional for an evaluation.
  • Difficulty Chewing: Have you noticed difficulty or discomfort while chewing? Problems with the temporomandibular joint can lead to challenges with jaw movement, making it uncomfortable or painful to eat certain foods. You might experience a clicking or popping sensation when opening or closing your mouth, which can further hinder your ability to chew properly. Difficulty chewing can also contribute to other issues like headaches or nutritional deficiencies if left untreated.
  • Frequent Headaches: Chronic headaches, especially those originating from the temples or around the ears, can be linked to TMJ/TMD disorder. The dysfunction of the jaw joint can trigger tension headaches or migraines due to the strain placed on surrounding muscles and nerves. If you find yourself experiencing regular headaches alongside other symptoms like jaw pain or clicking sounds, it's crucial to investigate the possibility of TMJ/TMD involvement.
  • Ear Pain or Ringing: Surprisingly, issues with the temporomandibular joint can affect the ears as well. Many individuals with TMJ/TMD disorder report experiencing ear pain, pressure, or ringing in the ears (tinnitus). This occurs because the jaw joint is located close to the ear canal, and any inflammation or dysfunction in this area can impact the surrounding structures. 
  • Facial Muscle Tension: TMJ/TMD disorder can lead to increased tension in the facial muscles, causing them to feel tight, sore, or fatigued. You might notice difficulty relaxing your jaw or facial muscles, even when you're not actively using them. This chronic muscle tension can exacerbate other symptoms like jaw pain and headaches, creating a cycle of discomfort. Gentle massage, heat therapy, and relaxation techniques may provide temporary relief, but addressing the underlying TMJ/TMD issue is essential for long-term improvement.

Choose ICCMO to Learn More About TMJ TMD

Managing TMJ disorder requires identifying and addressing factors that worsen symptoms. Those suffering with this condition must avoid triggers mentioned above to better manage their TMJ discomfort. Additionally, seeking proper treatment from qualified professionals is crucial for long-term relief. 

International College of Cranio-Mandibular Orthopedics (ICCMO) provides dentists with valuable resources and training to understand and treat TMJ TMD disorders effectively. Through ICCMO, dentists can gain a deeper insight into various TMJ TMD treatment options. This eventually improves patient care and outcomes. Check our website for more information and join us today