If you suffer from pain in your temporomandibular joints (TMJ) or a temporomandibular dysfunction (TMD) and you are unable to visit TMJ Centre Melbourne for any reason, then this blog will provide at-home TMJ and stress relief tips.
You may experience TMJ disorders or general discomfort due to either injury, grinding or clenching on the teeth, arthritis, or inflammation/infections. However, in some cases the cause may also be genetic, hormonal or environmental (lifestyle factors).
Symptoms of TMDs:
- Painful or tender jaw, neck, ears or facial areas.
- Popping or clicking sounds when the jaw moves.
- Chewing difficulties
- Opening the jaw is painful or difficult.
- Headaches (read how in a later blog by TMJ Centre Melbourne).
Jaw exercises to reduce TMJ pain:
There are a few exercises that can help reduce the severity of jaw pain, including the following:
- Gently rest your tongue on the ceiling of your mouth as this prompts your teeth to come apart. This helps to relax your jaw muscles, you will feel this occurring.
- Rest your tongue on the ceiling of your mouth again and gently open and close your mouth.
- Massage the affected muscles with moist heat, as it will help muscles to relax, by providing a soothing approach.
- With your thumb under your chin apply slight pressure and begin slowly opening your mouth. Hold for a few seconds and then close your mouth.
- Squeeze your chin using your thumbs and index fingers and apply gentle pressure as you close your mouth.
- Form a double chin by pulling your chin straight back and hold for a few seconds and repeat this process 10 times.
There are many other jaw and muscle stretching exercises which can ease the symptoms of TMJ pain. These can be found by consulting TMJ Centre Melbourne or online reputable medical sources such as this guide by the Royal Surrey County Hospital, which shows visuals of the exercises to help relieve TMJ pain.
Lifestyle changes to reduce TMJ pain:
If you are suffering from TMJ disorders and cannot seek help due to current circumstances, then please try the following:
- Do not chew gum – Chewing gum should be avoided as actively chewing will not allow the jaw joints or muscles to rest. Prolonged chewing only aids discomfort and pain, which may make the situation worse.
- Consume soft foods – It’s best to choose foods that require less chewing and can be swallowed easier to reduce activity in the TMJ and muscles.
- Avoid unnecessary clenching or tensing – These place pressure on the TMJ and muscles, which may increase the severity of the issue.
- Maintain enough rest – Having enough sleep allows your body to rest and replenish.
- Avoid singing – Or other activities that promote high usage of the TMJ and surrounding muscles.
- Avoid chewing foreign objects – This should be avoided whether you have TMJ pain or not.
Discover information about the causes, diagnosis and a full range of self care and medical treatment options available in this journal article by Dimitroulis (2018).
How stress can cause TMJ/TMD
Stress can subconsciously make you clench your jaw more often and grind your teeth, which can put pressure on the jaw; causing pain and tension.
If stress is ongoing or chronic it can be detrimental to your jaw health, as prolonged clenching and pressure can cause poor control over the muscles responsible for opening our jaw.
The most important factor is for patients to identify the source of their stress causing potential pressure on the TMJ and surrounding muscles. This will allow lifestyle changes to be put in place to minimise or diminish the source of stress.
How to relieve stress that’s causing TMJ pain
Relieving stress while at-home can be done in a multitude of ways, including:
- Exercise – easily one of the most effective strategies to relieve stress as daily exercise lowers stress hormones (such as cortisol), improves sleep quality and may even boost confidence. Exercise also increases the release of endorphins, which work to reduce stress and pain.
- Fragrance candles – a form of aromatherapy which can subconsciously reduce stress and improve sleep. Several studies, including one by Cho et al. (2013) have proven that aromatherapy is an effective stress reliever and blood pressure stabiliser for patients.
- Reduce caffeine intake – caffeine is a stimulant and should only be consumed in healthy amounts. Consuming too much caffeine can cause your mood to plummets, leading to stress and anxiety.
- Speak to friends and family – it’s important to speak to those who care about you and provide self-worth. Both women and men benefit from friendships and relationships. Check out this study by Cadzow et al. (2009) which concluded that patients who had fewer social connections were likely to have greater anxieties.
- Laugh – the perfect distraction from stress. Laughing can improve your stress response and relaxes muscles by relieving tension.
- Be constructive – get on top of your priorities and make a to-do list. This will not only leave you feeling accomplished, but also prevent scrambling to finish tasks at the last second.
- Practice mindfulness – Why not search up yoga or meditation exercises online? They are proven to be excellent activities for relieving stress, with almost limitless information backing this up. Mindfulness therapy leaves you in a state of relaxation and awareness to the present moment.
- Music – listen to either soothing music, or music you enjoy most. Music works wonders for calming the body, reducing stress and lowering blood pressure.
- Take deep breaths – there is a reason they always tell you to take deep breaths! It’s because deep controlled breaths can help activate your parasympathetic nervous system. This nervous system is responsible for controlling the relaxation response. Other ways this nervous system can be activated is by spending time in nature, having a massage, playing with a pet or meditating.
If you are interested in learning more about the parasympathetic nervous system, then check out journals found in the Encyclopedia of Neuroscience.
- Play with your pet – having a pet naturally is known to reduce stress and improve moods.
Carrying out multiple of these activities can help reduce symptoms of jaw clenching and tension that is causing TMDs or general TMJ or facial muscle pains.
Contact TMJ Centre Melbourne
At TMJ Centre Melbourne we have both a TMJ dentist and chiropractor, which means we are able provide a unique and holistic approach to TMJ treatment and care.
Our team can provide pain relief by using neuromuscular TMJ treatment options.
If you would like to find out more information on TMJ pain and TMDs, our team at TMJ Centre Melbourne will be happy to help you by organising an appointment.
However, you are unable to make it into the clinic, or if we are closed, we will be able to provide you with useful advice, such as at-home exercises and tips to prevent stress and relieve TMJ pain in the meantime.