If you often feel like saying “ouch” upon opening your mouth, or if you hear a click or pop with every bite you take, it’s time to take a load off your TMJ. When something’s off with the alignment of your jaw joint, you’ll definitely feel the pain. Doing some exercises can help, and so can taking smaller bites and applying moist heat to the jaw. Once you’ve tried everything and still haven’t found relief, it’s time to visit your Houston oral surgeon for TMJ therapy, Dr. Steve L. Koo.
#1: Take Smaller Bites
Everyone loves a good burger or sub sandwich, but biting directly into super-sized foods requires you to open your mouth wider than is good for your jaw. If you ever feel like you’re extending your jaw past what’s comfortable, it’s probably a good idea to put down the food and cut it into smaller pieces.
#2: Slow It Down
Life moves fast, and a lot of us eat on the go or take rushed lunches to keep up. But eating too quickly can also overwork your jaw and leave you feeling the pain. Avoid it by slowing down and actually enjoying your food for once! Your TMJ will thank you for taking the time to pause and chew thoughtfully.
#3: Avoid Chewing Gum
Chewing sugar free gum after a meal can be a good way to help you steer clear of cavities and enjoy fresher breath, but it’s also a recipe for jaw pain for people with TMJ/TMD. So instead of seeking freshness with a stick of gum, try brushing your teeth or using mouthwash after meals and throughout the day instead.
#4: Use Moist Heat
In addition to steering clear of the things that cause your TMJ to ache, it’s a good idea to do some at-home therapy to try to alleviate your discomfort. Applying moist heat, like with a water bottle or warm washcloth, can reduce inflammation and help you avoid discomfort. It’s an especially good idea to apply moist heat before bedtime, when jaw clenching and teeth grinding are more likely to occur.
#5: Do Some Exercises
You can also try to do some stretches and exercises to alleviate TMJ pain. One exercise that may be particularly helpful is opening and closing your jaw while placing some resistance on your jaw. Press upwards with your thumb below your jaw and open your mouth several times. Place your forefinger on your lower teeth and do the same motion, but with force against closing the mouth. Doing this exercise a few times a day can help strengthen your TMJ to prevent future pain.
#6: Seek Professional TMJ Treatment
If you experience severe pain in the TMJ, you may need to skip the at-home remedies and visit the oral surgeon in Houston instead. When you come into Dr. Koo’s office for a TMJ evaluation, we will do a physical exam and take a series of images to confirm or rule out a problem with the TMJ. Treatment for TMJ/TMD can range from splint therapy to occlusal bite therapy and surgery. You and Dr. Koo will thoroughly discuss your case to ensure you fully understand your treatment options.
Schedule an Appointment at Piney Point OMS!
If you have severe pain in the jaw, you don’t have to live with it anymore. Schedule an appointment to get started with a diagnosis and treatment for TMJ today!