TMJ pain can make you miserable because it affects everyday activities like speaking and eating. We often treat a TMJ disorder, a condition characterized by inflamed temporomandibular joints (TMJ), with a custom night guard. The night guard eases your jaw into a position that relieves tension and also prevents teeth grinding, a habit often found in those suffering from TMJ disorders.
Read our earlier blog post about Kandace, a 1st in Smiles patient who found relief with a night guard. She calls her night guard “a lifesaver.”
Obviously you may not be able to get to our office right now for anything but a dental emergency. Still, we don’t want you to suffer with TMJ pain. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to ease the discomfort until it’s possible to see Dr. Barfield.
When you are ready to make an appointment, call us at 972-380-8105. He is happy to discuss your TMJ problem. If necessary, he can fit you for a custom night guard similar to the one Kandace used. It’s made using impressions of your teeth, so it will fit much better than a store-bought night guard.
Watch Chewing & Other Problematic Behaviors
Chewing ice is always a bad idea, as it can damage your tooth enamel. But it can also aggravate TMJ pain, as can chewing gum. Also avoid biting down on pencils or similar objects.
Practice Good Posture
Avoid slumping your shoulders or resting your chin in your hand. Keep your head up straight as much as you can.
Keep Your Teeth Apart Whenever You Can
Many times jaw clenching and teeth grinding happen during sleep, when you’re not even aware you are doing it. However, these problematic behaviors can occur during the day too. They are often linked to stress. To relieve tension on your jaw and stop you from clenching your jaw, try to keep your tongue between your teeth as much as possible.
Find Stress Management Techniques That Work for You
Since clenching and grinding are often byproducts of stress, you should look for ways to reduce stress in your life. Some common stress-management techniques include regular exercise, cutting down on caffeine, keeping a journal, and receiving massages.
Heat, Ice & OTC Medication May Help
Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen or naproxen can help relieve TMJ pain and facial swelling. You can also try applying ice and/or warm heat to your jaw. We suggest alternating an ice pack and a warm towel or washcloth.
Eat Soft Foods
Eliminate hard, crunchy foods like raw vegetables and pretzels from your diet, as well as foods that require lots of chewing. Instead choose soft foods like yogurt, scrambled eggs, cooked vegetables, fish and other easy-to-chew meat. To avoid opening your jaw wide, take small bites.
Add Mouthwash to Your Hygiene Routine
Any activity that involves opening your mouth can cause TMJ pain. That includes brushing and flossing. Be as gentle as possible when cleaning teeth. Always use a soft-bristled toothbrush. Since it may be tough to brush as thoroughly as usual or to floss at all, you may want to add an antibacterial mouthwash to your routine.
When you’re ready to make an appointment, call 1st in Smiles today at 972-380-8105 to visit our Plano, TX office.