The Drs. Boisson understand that this time of year can get stressful. Our family dentistry practice in Grande Prairie tends to see an increase in TMJ complaints when stress levels are high. Daily life responsibilities like work and family happen in Alberta’s Peace Country, despite its name! Connecting your jawbone to your skull, the TMJ or Temporomandibular (tem-puh-roe-man-DIB-u-lur) Joint is a hard-working joint that commonly experiences issues. Some patients will feel pain on one or both sides of the TMJ, which can worsen with chewing and movement.
Managing TMJ Symptoms With Best Practices
As Grande Prairie family dentistry specialists in physiologic dentistry, we have impactful dental solutions to TMJ, which can differ from patient to patient. In addition to our in-office treatment, we have some recommendations to lessen the pain and tension of TMJ at home.
This article will highlight our top 4 lifestyle tips for managing TMJ at home. When paired with physiologic dental solutions, these lifestyle tips for TMJ home treatment are highly effective for maintaining long-term pain management.
Remember to Maintain TMJ Rest Position for Optimal Results
At the heart of all of our tips is the TMJ rest position, which is how your jaw sits when completely at rest. Yawning, laughing, chewing, and simply expressing strong emotions require coming out of your TMJ’s rest position. And certainly, these wide jaw movements are an essential part of everyday life! But that being said, they stress your TMJ.
If you’re experiencing an uptick in pain and tenderness in the area, remember to restore your jaw’s rest position. Many TMJ sufferers unconsciously clench their jaws. Be mindful and make a note to unclench, minimize wide jaw movements and maintain the rest position where possible. Tip #4 will further explore habits that worsen your TMJ pain.
4 Lifestyle Tips for Managing TMJ Pain at Home
The following are our favourite lifestyle approaches to help you manage TMJ pain at home. With the holidays around the corner, stress is running high. We hope you’ll take a well-deserved time out to practice self-care!
#1 Practice Good Posture
We don’t need to tell you this – our lifestyles are not optimized for pain management! Whether your days keep you on your feet all day, behind the wheel of a car, or trapped behind a computer for 8 hours straight, none of these are great for you.
Subconsciously clenching your jaw may be an obvious cause of TMJ pain, but a hunched posture often goes along with that clenching. The quickest way to fix an uncomfortable posture is to change it. Holding any attentive position, sitting or standing is likely to lead to holding that position improperly.
So make a note to check in with your posture throughout the day. Ensure that you have a supportive chair. Sit upright, with your shoulders back. If you’re sitting and slouching, stand up and stretch to give your spinal cord a chance to lengthen. If you have the option of moving to a standing desk, take it.
#2 Make 8 Hours of Sleep a Night a Priority
If you’re one of those go-getters who think of sleep as a luxury reserved for the dead, think again. There is nothing quite like a solid 8 hours of sleep for preventative healthcare and effective TMJ pain management. Sleep debt is real and you can’t make up missed hours of sleep on your next free weekend. We strongly recommend checking out Dr. Matthew Walker’s Google Talk ‘Why Sleep Matters’. It’s a proper eye-opener!
Sleeping on your back is the best position for TMJ pain management, as it helps to put your TMJ in its proper rest position. That being said, back sleeping is uncomfortable for many. If you are a side or a belly sleeper, avoid placing your hand on your jaw or anything else that will disrupt your TMJ’s rest position.
#3 Stress Management: Do It!
Honestly, if everyone had their stress perfectly managed, in a perfect parallel Grande Prairie, family dentists would expect to see a dramatic reduction in TMJ dysfunction. Just as modern work life forces us into postures that harm us, it also gets in the way of getting a full night’s sleep. If you’re too stressed to sleep and your TMJ is worsening, you are entitled to a time-out. Whatever de-stressing activity works for you, do it.
Some relaxing activities that may work for you include stretching, yoga, tai chi, napping, reading a book, walking, watching your favourite show, or taking a relaxing bath. Even better, while practicing one of these stress-reducing activities, commit to turning off devices.
#4 Minimize Habits That Worsen Your TMJ
There are several habits that TMJ dysfunction sufferers have a tendency to do subconsciously, which worsens the symptoms.
This list is by no means exhaustive:
- Biting cheeks and lips
- Clenching your jaw/teeth
- Grinding your jaw/teeth
- Pushing your tongue against your teeth
- Leaning/resting your jaw on your hand
- Eating foods that are tough to chew (usually crunchy/hard/sticky foods)
- Taking big bites or mouthfuls of food
Each TMJ sufferer has triggers and habits that worsen their symptoms. More emotive people may smile or laugh quite wide, while others may clench their jaws when they are stressed or angry.
Make a note of your triggers and symptoms. Focus on these while you’re going through your de-stressing activities and disengage from them as best as you can. Mindfulness checks throughout the day should focus on reducing these triggers.
Solutions for TMJ With Your Grande Prairie Family Dentist
Here at Boisson Family Dentist Grande Prairie, we have been practicing physiologic dentistry for 30 years. We are experts in TMJ dysfunction and have excellent solutions for patients suffering from this issue. These four lifestyle tips, practicing good posture and stress management, sleeping 8 hours a night, and mindfully minimizing TMJ-worsening habits, will positively impact your TMJ pain.
Give Boisson Family Dentist in Grande Prairie a call to learn more about our approach to treating TMJ: