• Life with TMJ

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  • Causes

  • Symptoms

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  • Living Tips

  • Fact Sheet

  • A person with a TMJ disorder may experience a progression of symptoms. It’s unknown why symptoms may worsen and improve over time. When a person is affected by symptoms related to the TMJ, the condition is usually manageable with common pain treatments such as over-the-counter pain relievers, exercises, and rest. In most cases, symptoms disappear within weeks.

    Those suffering from more persistent symptoms related to disorder, disease or dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint can take steps to reduce painful and disruptive symptoms through basic daily tasks.By making and following a reliable self-treatment schedule, one can provide basic self-care tasks that may improve the condition. For example, regularly performing exercises as recommended by a doctor or physical therapist often improve the symptoms of TMJD.

    It’s also recommended that a person with TMJD undertake daily activities meant to reduce tension and stress. Yoga, meditation and breathing exercises may release stress and tightness in the muscles of the face, neck, shoulders and back.

    Maintaining good posture at work, while driving, while at home and during recreational activities is also important to the relief of muscle and joint tension in the jaw, neck, back and head. A person should avoid holding the phone between the shoulder and ear and instead hold a phone with a hand to the ear, or use a headset to avoid crunching the muscles of the neck and shoulder and causing unnecessary strain.

    Yawning, yelling, singing and other activities that may cause a person to have to open his or her jaw wide should be avoided. If a yawn is imminent, place your tongue on the roof of your mouth and slide it back to limit the opening of the jaw. Avoiding opening the mouth wide to eat is also recommended. Keep food in small and bite-sized pieces, and also opt for softer foods, such as scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, yogurt, and cooked and diced fruits and vegetables, to avoid aggravating the condition. Crunchy and chewy foods such as salads, nuts, certain breads, and steaks should be avoided.

    Support groups such as the TMJ Association helps educate patients on how to minimize the effect of painful and disabling symptoms, updates members on the latest research and news in TMJD studies, and offers those with TMJD a supportive and understanding community to ask questions and share experiences.