Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) can cause serious jaw pain, frequent headaches and migraines, and other annoying and painful symptoms that can have a huge impact on your quality of life. Without treatment, it’s inevitable that your condition will only get worse.

Avoid these 10 habits to prevent your TMJ from getting worse.

young woman in red flannel shirt with jaw pain

1. Taking Big Bites

When you have TMJ, your surrounding muscles are already feeling severely strained. When you open your mouth to take giant bites, you’re continuing to strain your jaw. Think of it as you just ran a marathon and your legs are sore. Would you go out and run another marathon before letting your legs recover? No. Let your jaw rest by taking smaller bites. Cut up your food into smaller pieces if you need to.

2. Chewing Things That Aren’t Food

Another habit that can make TMJ worse is chewing on anything that’s not meant to be chewed on. For instance, you shouldn’t chew on pencils, bite your nails, use your teeth as tools, or chew on ice cubes. Limit your teeth for chewing food and food only. Not only can chewing on non-food items make your TMJ condition worse, but it can damage your teeth resulting in wear and cracks or chips. Unless you want to pay for several dental crowns down the line, use your teeth only for chewing food.

3. Poor Posture

Remember how parents and family members would always yell at you to stop slouching and to sit up straight? Well, they were doing it for a good reason. Slouching and poor posture can lead to back and neck problems and also contribute to TMJ. Your jaw operates best when your head rests comfortably above your cervical spine when your posture is straight. If you slouch, your jaw muscles have to work harder to open and close your jaw. If you have a bad habit of slouching, you can try different posture correcting exercises or devices to wear.

4. Chewing Gum

Chewing gum is another example of putting your jaw through unnecessary chewing when it’s sore from the equivalent of running a marathon. You need to give your jaw time to rest. Chewing gum causes you to endlessly chew for at least twenty minutes per piece of gum. If you chew multiple pieces of gum throughout the day, you will only continue to strain your jaw.

5. Clenching and Grinding

Although clenching and grinding can indicate that you have TMJ, continuing to do so can make TMJ even worse. Clenching and grinding can happen from stress, misaligned teeth, and having TMJ. The key to stopping yourself from clenching and grinding is visiting your TMJ dentist in Southlake, TX for TMJ treatment.

6. Stress

When you’re feeling stressed out, it’s natural for your body to strain the muscles in your neck and head. As you do this, it puts more strain on the muscles next to your jaw which will make your TMJ symptoms feel even worse. Try to find healthy ways to relieve stress in your life like practicing yoga, meditation, or simply just taking a walk when you need to. Relieving stress can have a large positive impact on your recovery from TMD.

7. Sleeping on Your Stomach

When you sleep on your stomach, your spine is not aligned properly with your back, head, and neck. When you sleep on your stomach, your jaw gets extra pressure put on it. If you want to alleviate your symptoms best as you can in your sleep, try sleeping on your back and subtly propping your neck up on a pillow.

8. Resting Your Hand Under Your Chin

Like sleeping on your stomach puts extra pressure on your jaw, so does resting your jaw on your hand. When you do this, it can cause your jaw to push against the TM joint and move the disc out of place. As a result, you can experience issues with opening and closing your jaw.

9. Chewing On Only One Side

If you have a bad habit of chewing on one side more than the other, you can cause your jaw to become strained on that side which might not just cause TMJ, but make it worse. When you chew, try to be mindful about eating equally on both sides of your mouth. This will prevent one side from overworking itself.

10. Not Getting TMJ Treatment in Southlake, TX

The last habit that can make your TMJ worse is not getting treatment from our Southlake, TX TMJ dentists. Our TMJ dentists use advanced dental technology including the BioPak system to accurately identify imbalances in your jaw and track irregular patterns to determine the best treatment option for you.

Your treatment uses a non-invasive approach which purpose is to remove imbalances in your jaw and restores your smile, allowing your jaw to relax in its most optimal position. Every patient has different needs so you will need to visit us for a consultation to learn more about your specific treatment. Please call (817) 587-4566 to book an appointment at StarImage Dental Boutique & Oral Surgery for TMJ treatment.