Do you suffer from temporomandibular pain, also known as TMJ? If you do, you’re not alone. The condition affects 5% to 12% of the American adult population. TMJ pain is characterized by jaw and facial discomfort.
Those with the condition may also experience pain when speaking or chewing food. Fortunately, there are ways you can manage discomfort and lower the severity of pain. The following are methods you can try that some TMJ sufferers have attested to.
1. Jaw Exercise
The jaw isn’t just bone; there is also muscle. Strengthen this muscle the way you would any other muscle group with exercise. Two jaw exercises come to mind:
- Exercise 1 – place your tongue behind the back part of your front teeth. With the tongue fixed in this position, open and close your mouth. Do six to ten repetitions.
- Exercise 2 – place both thumbs beneath the chin. Try to open your mouth by dropping your jaw while using your thumbs to keep your jaw from opening.
Do these exercises daily. Don’t do a single set for one day and expect the pain to miraculously go away. As with growing a muscle, it takes consistent practice.
2. Eat Some Cashews
Consume a moderate serving of cashew nuts daily. Why cashews? For starters, they’re a rich source of magnesium, a mineral essential for bone health. In addition, cashews contain copper. This mineral assists in the production of an enzyme that supports collagen strength and elasticity. This helps keep the jaw flexible at the connection points. Walnuts are another good nut source with a similar nutritional profile.
3. Jaw Massage
A massage relieves muscle pain and soreness by stimulating blood flow to the region. A good way to massage the jaw is by rubbing the sore area with your mouth open.
Alternatively, you can massage the pain area from inside the mouth. You can also try massaging the muscles on the side of the neck to relieve tension.
4. Hot and Cold Remedy
The pain may respond to either hot or cold therapy. Experiment with hot therapy by placing a warm towel over the jaw. The towel should be warm but not so hot that it burns the skin. Apply for five minutes two to four times per day.
If this doesn’t work, then try cold therapy by applying an ice bag over the jaw. To do this, place a light cloth, such as a t-shirt, over the ice bag to prevent ice burns to the skin. Apply for 20-minutes; rest for 20-minutes, and repeat. Some people alternate between both hot and cold therapy.
5. Be Mindful of Your Posture
Your daily posture may be contributing to the pain. When sitting, keep your back straight and try not to lean forward too much. The chin should be aligned with and not in front of the body.
You should also minimize unnatural positions as much as possible. One example is talking on the phone and cradling the device between your ears and shoulders because your hands are full. This puts tremendous pressure on your neck and jaw.
6. Watch What You Eat
Limit hard and crunchy foods, such as carrots, apples, and tough meats. Instead, aim for soft foods like kiwis, strawberries, porridge, etc. In addition, try to limit caffeine intake, as this can increase muscle tension. If you regularly consume caffeinated beverages, look for alternatives like decaffeinated coffee and tea.
TMJ pain may be related to your dental health. If you’re experiencing recurring jaw discomfort, make an appointment with Dr. Maestri, the TMJ dentist in Lafayette, LA. We can help you formulate a treatment plan for managing the issue long-term.