Things You Can Do to Manage TMJ Pain
As the year wraps up, we find ourselves looking forward to the long-awaited and hard-earned break. While the festive season is a time to be merry with family and friends, people who suffer from TMJ headaches are left feeling miserable and weighed down by the pressure of the looming pain. Our team at TMJ Centre Melbourne want to help you avoid the suffering by providing you with a few tips to temporarily relieve TMJ pain.
What is TMJ and do you suffer with it?
TMJ refers to the joint that connects your jaw to your skull and is critical for basic movements like chewing, speaking and yawning. When the joint is injured, either by stress or a physical cause, it can cause misalignment resulting in headaches, neck pains and jaw pains. Here are a few symptoms that could mean that your TMJ is injured:
· Frequent painful headaches
· Muscle tension in the back, neck and shoulders
· Pain or tenderness in the jaw
· Grinding and clenching your teeth
How can you avoid TMJ this festive season?
1. Anti-inflammatory diet
It probably makes sense that crunchy foods are harder to chew and, therefore, may aggravate your TMJ pain. But did you know that the nutritional content of the foods you eat may also impact your condition?
People suffering from TMJ should:
- Increase anti-inflammatory foods, such as fish which are high in Omega-3, whole grains, dark leafy greens and soy.
- Increase intake of foods such as ginger, turmeric, and blueberries as they are known to be powerful anti-inflammatories, and also good for your immune system! Omega-3 containing foods like salmon, trout, and tilapia can help fight inflammation, ease pain, and protect your heart.
- Increase foods that contribute to joint health, including foods rich in vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium and selenium.
Here is a list of the Top Five foods to avoid if you suffer from TMJ:
- High-impact foods: Avoid foods that make your jaw work harder, such as hard bread, nuts or candy. Also avoid chewy foods, such as steak or bagels.
- Inflammatory foods: Avoid foods that can fire up joint pain, such as processed foods, sugars or refined carbohydrates, alcohol and tobacco, salt and corn oil.
- Salicylates: Avoid foods that are rich in salicylates, such as dairy, olives, hot peppers and juices. (Salicylates are found naturally in plants. People with a salicylate allergy may experience jaw pain.)
- Gum: This isn’t a food, but frequent gum-chewing can lead to chronic jaw pain. Give your jaw a break!
- Aggravating foods: Avoid foods that aggravate your jaw joints and muscles. Just pay attention to your body and, if it hurts, stop eating it.
2.Adjust your posture
Try to get into the habit of sitting up straight instead of leaning forward or slouching. Ensure that your back is well supported at all times. The reason for this is when you are sitting forward, you add strain to your neck and back that has to support you. This can contribute to jaw pain as the muscles are connected.
3. Invest in a handset
We all get into the habit of cradling the telephone receiver between our shoulders and ear, especially when we are trying to multitask. This small action puts a strain on your neck and jaw. If you are in the habit of doing this, try to invest in a handset.
4. Speak to us about a Neuromuscular Orthotic
Custom neuromuscular orthotics are very different in function to splints, mouth guards or bite plates. Orthotics allow the muscles to relax and maintain ideal joint function, therefore helping eliminate pain, clicking and locking. These devices are designed to be as invisible, accurate and as thin as possible using CAD/CAM technology. Dr Meetal Shah often prescribes Neuromuscular orthotics at the TMJ Centre Melbourne.
5. Jaw exercise and massages
Practice jaw exercises like gently placing your tongue behind your upper front teeth to relax your jaw. In order to relieve muscle strain and promote blood flow, try massaging the areas around your jaw. During this massage, open your mouth slightly and rub the muscles near your TMJ joint. You should also try massaging the muscles on the sides of your neck. Those muscles don’t directly control your jaw, but by massaging them you help to reduce the tension that contributes to jaw pain.
6. Adjust your sleeping position
Sleep on your back or side. If you’re on your stomach, with your head turned to one side, the misalignment leads to neck strain that’s transferred to your jaw.
Do not let TMJ headaches ruin your holiday
The best and most effective way to diagnose and treat TMJ headaches is by visiting a specialist. Contact us today.