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Try these TMJ remedies you may not have considered.

If you have pain or other symptoms from temporomandibular disorder (often referred to as “TMJ” or “TMD) you have many options for helping manage your condition. Massage, of course, is one of our favorites. But here is a list, compiled by a dental hygienist, of things you can do at home to help ease your TMJ symptoms.

Chewing-

Since temporomandibular disorders focus around the temporomandibular joint- or the jaw- try adjusting some of your chewing habits to relieve repetitive stress in the area.

  • Avoid chewing gum.
  • Chew foods on both sides of the mouth instead of just one. (You may really have to focus on this one!)
  • Cut food into smaller, easier to chew pieces.
  • Opt for softer foods over hard, crunchy, or chewy foods.

Postural-

Some postural patterns may put a strain on the neck and head thus exacerbating TMJ symptoms. Here are some common tips on postural changes for improving TMJ.

  • Who knew? Proper resting position for the jaw is actually with the teeth about three millimeters apart. If your teeth are together, relax your jaw a little. You can still keep your lips together.
  • Experiment with sleeping positions. Often, sleeping on the back can relieve strain in this area. Regardless of which way you sleep, try to find a good pillow that fits your sleeping position.
  • Avoid wearing heavy objects (i.e., bags, coats) that weigh down your shoulders.
  • Keep your head from shifting forward as much as possible. Proper head alignment means your ears are over your shoulders.

Stress Relief-

Stress may cause or exacerbate TMJ symptoms for some people. Do your favorite healthy de-stress activity.

  • Exercise regularly- sports, cardio, yoga- whatever you like!
  • Take some deep controlled breaths.
  • Listen to soothing music, journal, or draw.
  • Get some nature.

Self-Care-

You can directly work on the area yourself between whatever interventions you use with your health team.

  • Massage your head, jaw, neck, and shoulders. You can use your hands or a tool. You can even massage the muscle inside your cheek- have your therapist show you!
  • Apply moist heat to these same areas. Especially nice to prepare for bedtime.
  • Do any home exercises and/or stretches your doctor has given you.
  • Wear your mouthguard if you have one to prevent clenching and/or grinding.

Whether your TMJ just started and is going away with treatment or it is a stubborn chronic issue, you can take steps to manage your symptoms. Try some of these, or share some of your favorites.

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