Temporomandibular joint disorders, or TMD, can be a literal pain. Between its relationship with poor posture to how difficult it is to diagnose, TMD can put unneeded strain on your mental and physical health.
Here at Top Down Dental, we’re not just focused on what’s happening inside of your mouth. We’re dedicated to making sure your overall health is contributing to a positive and fulfilling lifestyle. If you’re suffering from the symptoms of TMD, however, you’re likely not enjoying life to its fullest. That’s why Dr. Nancy Nehawandian is committed to providing the highest level of care for your entire body.
Do You Have TMD?
As mentioned, TMD can be hard to diagnose. That’s because the symptoms of TMD, like jaw soreness, difficulty chewing, headaches or a stiff jaw, can be attributed to other disorders. TMD is a disorder that occurs when the temporomandibular joints – the joints that connect your jaw to your skull – become damaged or displaced. It can also be caused by tense, overworked jaw muscles. Muscular TMD is the most common form, and it might be linked to more symptoms. Here are a few reasons your TMD might be worse than normal:
- You’re grinding or clenching your teeth, putting unneeded stress on the temporomandibular joint and jaw
- Your jaw is being thrown out of alignment. This may be caused by poor posture and misaligned teeth.
- Stress and anxiety.
- Arthritis or other disorders than can cause inflammation
- Excessive chewing.
Most of these have something in common: they’re behavioral habits. And you can break any habit with enough effort.
Breaking the Habit
If you’re sick of the pain caused by your TMD, there are a few things you can do to break the habits that make symptoms worse. Breaking these habits is rooted in mindfulness. As you go about your day, pay attention to your stress levels and how your body responds to them.
- Maintain good posture. Most of us spend the majority of our day seated at a desk. Pay attention to what your shoulders, neck and head are doing. Correct that head-forward posture when you notice it.
- Stop clenching or grinding your teeth. This is a hard habit to break, especially because most of us don’t notice when we’re doing it. If you regularly clench or grind, consider a sleep appliance like a DNA Appliance and wear it often.
- Get treated for sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a common root of TMD. If you often wake up tired or feel excessively drowsy throughout the day – even when you’ve gotten a full night’s sleep – you may have sleep apnea.
- Ditch the gum. Chewing gum can be a satisfying and mostly harmless habit, but if you have TMD, it can worsen symptoms. Ditch the gum in favor of something like Tic Tacs.
- Chew only food. Your teeth are for biting and chewing food, not other objects. Biting on things like pen tops, fingernails, or clothing. Also, don’t use your teeth as tools like a nutcracker, scissors, or bottle opener.
- Visit your dentist. Though early stages of TMD can be mitigated at home by correcting your posture or being mindful about teeth clenching, if your jaw is out of alignment or your teeth are creating a misaligned bite, you need to see your dentist for a more decisive solution.
Get Your Jaw Healthy Again
If you’re ready to end the pain associated with TMD once and for all, Dr. Nancy Nehawandian at Top Down Dental in Los Gatos, California, can get your jaw back in alignment. Your oral health is connected to your overall health, and if your jaw is misaligned, your entire body is thrown off.