Your jaw bones play a major role in your lifestyle. It’s something that we largely take for granted. We go about our day eating and speaking without a second thought about our jaws. But when we start having problems with our temporomandibular joint (TMJ), it can result in a considerable amount of discomfort. Destructive oral habits will only make this discomfort persist. Eventually, it could lead to greater functional problems.
Known as TMJ disorder, this condition can be combatted with the help of an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. However, you shouldn’t solely rely on them to get you through the pain. There are steps that you need to take in your own life to ensure your long-term oral health success. Be proactive in seeking treatment for your symptoms. Learn about how you can get TMJ and what the disorder treatment can resolve for you.
You can aggravate your joint with daily functions. Over time, it is going to become more apparent which functions these are. Adjust your lifestyle accordingly. If caught early enough, there are many remedies that can improve your symptoms. Here are six things that you should not do, if you want to avoid needing TMJ disorder treatment from professionals.
Not every food is healthy for your teeth and jaw bone. Tough meat and hard vegetables rank among the worst foods for those with a TMJ disorder. Crunching on hard candy and ice cubes is similarly not a good idea. A specialist will inform you of what you should and shouldn’t eat, in order to minimize the amount of stress on your joint. Make sure that you chew evenly on those recommended foods so that you develop better chewing habits.
Do you often find yourself unconsciously clenching your teeth? This could even be something that you do during your sleep. One TMJ disorder treatment that you could go with, in this instance, is a nightguard. An oral and maxillofacial surgeon can point you in the right direction for this. It’s possible that you do this during the day, too, such as during times when you are anxious. Try to manage your stress with relaxing activities.
People may tell you to stop biting your nails because it is an unsanitary habit. They might say the same if you are someone who chews on pencils or pens. If you already struggle with TMJ symptoms, it could be a bigger problem than just the bacteria. Biting non-food items puts extra stress on your jaw. This will only increase your joint and muscle pain, as well as wear down your teeth.
Experts have found that a TMJ disorder can come about—or be made worse—by constant gum chewing. This is because it puts excessive force on your joint and teeth. It doesn’t help that the sugar that comes from gum creates a hot spot for bacteria. From there, teeth can get cavities. Luckily, sugar-free gum exists. But you should still minimize your gum intake to give your muscles the chance to rest.
Your teeth were made for the sake of eating. They aren’t the equivalent of scissors or pliers. With that in mind, it isn’t in your best interest to use your teeth as tools. Perhaps you have opened bottles in the past or ripped open packages with your teeth. This requires a force that could damage your teeth and hurt your jaw. It is recommended, instead, to take those few extra seconds to find the right equipment for the job.
Whether you are in school or working at the office, you may find your posture slipping. Poor posture at your desk can result in you feeling stiff throughout the rest of the day. Your spine might even keep cracking when you flex your back muscles. Posture also plays a role in the alignment of your jaw. So, if you are rounding your shoulders and putting your neck forward too often, it’s likely that you are exacerbating your TMJ disorder.
Habits form when your behaviors are enacted without conscious awareness. These may be behaviors that your parents drove into you from an early age. For that matter, from the time that we grow teeth, we are already developing oral habits. As we go through our lives, we may shed some of them because we adopt a new automatic behavior. There are many oral habits that are beneficial. For instance, if you get into the habit of brushing your teeth twice a day or flossing after every meal. But bad oral habits, like the ones that are listed above, can put a damper on our oral health.
After several years of performing a bad oral habit, it can be extremely challenging to break it. Although you may have heard that it takes 21 days to break a habit, that isn’t necessarily true. Realistically, the timeline depends on what that oral habit is. Are you an adult that has had a certain habit since elementary school, for example? Do you have other behaviors that reinforce that habit? It’s ultimately going to come down to how much effort you are willing to put in to break that habit. You need positive motivation, which may come from outside sources. But if you commit to regular self-control exercises, it can certainly help alter the course of your neural pathways.
When lifestyle modification doesn’t work as well as it could, consider having a conversation with an experienced oral and maxillofacial surgeon. They will guide you toward the right treatment option. Beyond offering better self-management techniques, there is a wide variety of ways that a surgeon can improve the state of your jaw. These are three of the TMJ disorder treatments that a specialist can provide.
Some people find temporary relief from their TMJ disorder with the help of injections. Botulinum toxin, also known as Botox, is often used to treat facial wrinkles. However, it is also great for treating TMJ symptoms. Botox injection treatments are minimally invasive and recommended along with other TMJ disorder therapy. These injections paralyze your jaw muscles to alleviate the pain of clenching. The technique leads you to have a more comfortable jaw.
A commonly recommended TMJ disorder treatment is a dental splint. The two main types include a TMJ mouthguard or splint. A TMJ mouthguard helps to reposition and stabilize the jaw bone. This reduces TMJ symptoms by releasing some of the pressure. There are many different types of TMJ splints, and an oral and maxillofacial surgeon can certainly help to guide you when selecting the appropriate split for your needs.
As with any oral health problem, opting for surgical management should be undertaken only after exploring non-surgical options, and then only after weighing the risks versus the potential benefits. Make sure that you are working with an experienced oral and maxillofacial surgeon. There are several surgical procedures specifically designed to improve TMJ function and treatment of your TMJ disorder. An oral and maxillofacial surgeon can help you decide which treatment is best for you.
Don’t let your TMJ worsen over time. Give yourself a better quality of life by taking care of it with the professionals at Lake Travis Oral Surgery or Bastrop Oral Surgery, right in the Heart of Texas. Dr. Alford is an expert in TMJ disorder treatment. With his specialties being in the diseases of the jaw and facial structure, you are sure to feel properly cared for. Get in contact with our team to set up a consultation.