Tips for Preventing a TMJ Flare-up

The temporomandibular joint connects the jaw to the skull. This connection occurs just beneath the ears on either side of the head. Each of these complex joints moves back and forth, up and down, and from side to side. The nearly constant use of this joint makes it is easy to see why temporomandibular disorders (TMD) develop. Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ) is one of these disorders.

What is TMJ?

This syndrome causes an individual to experience an array of bothersome symptoms, including pain. Knowing what triggers a TMJ flare up and then avoiding those triggers can help an individual prevent flare-ups of the temporomandibular joint.

The Importance of Attaining the Proper Diagnosis

Sometimes, temporomandibular disorders are difficult to diagnose because the symptoms a patient experiences mimic those associated with other conditions. To ensure a patient receives the most relevant treatment, attaining the proper diagnosis is essential. The experienced Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons at Heritage Oral Surgery and Implant Centers can quickly recognize the signs and symptoms that indicate a patient has a temporomandibular disorder.

Symptoms of a TMD can include:

  • Intense headaches – characteristics of these headaches include a piercing pain, throbbing or a constant ache.
  • Pain in the jaw with or without temporomandibular joint pain – this pain can range from mild to severe, be continuous or just come and go.
  • Ear pain – can range from a dull ache to an intense, searing pain.
  • Jaw popping or clicking – these symptoms typically occur while chewing, talking or opening the mouth.
  • Tinnitus – ringing in the ears.
  • Lockjaw – this problem occurs when the temporomandibular joints become misaligned. The individual is unable to open his or her mouth until the joints are properly realigned.
  • Visible inflammation – seen in the temporomandibular joint that is affected.

A flare-up can occur without warning, however, seeking care from an experienced Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon, and using the tips below can reduce the duration and intensity of a flare-up, or prevent them altogether.

6 Tips for Preventing a TMJ Flare Up

  1. Reduce Stress Levels

Stress can lead to the grinding or clenching of teeth. This additional pressure strains the facial muscles and the temporomandibular joints, causing irritation. Meditation and yoga are great ways to reduce stress.

  1. Stop Eating Foods that Are Chewy, Gummy or Hard

Eating hard, chewy or gummy candy as well as bagels, whole apples and nuts can cause a flare-up.

  1. Quit Overworking the Neck Muscles

The muscles responsible for controlling breathing, talking, biting, chewing and head posture work in conjunction with the muscles in the neck. If the neck muscles are tired and strained, other muscles must be used, which leads to an imbalance. This imbalance triggers the pain associated with TMJ.

  1. Avoid Becoming Dehydrated

Dehydration decreases the effectiveness of the body’s natural joint lubrication, which aggravates the joint and can lead to a TMJ flare-up. Avoiding caffeine, drinking plenty of water and eating foods with a high-water content (e.g., cucumbers, cantaloupe, tomatoes, etc.,) can help an individual remain well hydrated.

  1. Eat Well and Take a Daily Vitamin

If an individual’s Vitamin D level is deficient, he or she may experience muscle pain in the jaw.

  1. Use a Firm Pillow and Sleep on Your Back

By sleeping on the back with a pillow that offers an adequate amount of support for your head and neck, there is no pressure being placed on the jaw.

If you are experiencing pain in your jaw, or would like to learn more about the treatments for TMD, contact one of the Heritage Oral Surgery and Implant Centers below to schedule an appointment.

The Heritage Oral Surgery and Implant Centers are in:

  • Valencia – Tel: 661-253-3500, 27450 Tourney Road, Suite 160.
  • West Valley/Canoga Park – Tel: 818-703-8200, 22142 Sherman Way, Suite 201.
  • Palmdale – Tel: 661-538-1400, 843 Auto Center Drive, Suite B.

 

How Diet Affects Oral Health

While children are at risk for developing cavities, adults are too, especially as they age. When considering the results of a recent study published in the Journal of Aging Research and Clinical Practice, the importance of proper nutrition is evident. According to this study, severe tooth loss in the elderly serves as a key indicator of a compromised diet.

Dietary Factors Directly Affect Oral Health

Research has established that an individual’s dietary choices directly relate to the development of cavities and erosion of the tooth enamel, which is the protective coating over each tooth. Once the enamel is compromised, bacteria and plaque can build up, resulting in cavities.

Foods Offering the Highest Level of Nutrition

Obviously, Fresh Fruits and Veggies

Besides offering vitamins and minerals, these foods also contain water and fiber. The water and fiber help balance the natural sugars that these foods contain.

Eating raw fruits and veggies that are crunchy increases saliva production. This increase in saliva benefits the teeth because it helps wash away any food particles or acids that remain in the mouth. Left in the mouth too long, these acids and particles can harm the teeth.

Berries and Citrus Fruits

These fruits are full of vitamin C and calcium, however, they also contain natural sugar and citrus fruit is acidic, so limited consumption is recommended. Furthermore, after eating any type of acidic food, rinsing your mouth is essential. This acid can wreak havoc on the enamel of your teeth.

Dark leafy greens (e.g., kale, spinach, etc.) are rich in calcium and vitamin C, both of which help fight periodontal disease. In addition, these vegetables have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Shiitake mushrooms are considered a superfood because they contain an antibacterial compound (lentinan) that has the ability to prevent bacterial growth. In addition, these mushrooms help prevent plaque buildup on the teeth.

Snacks

Choose wholesome snacks that are sugar-free. Sticky treats (e.g., fruit snacks and caramels, etc.) attach to the grooves of your teeth, providing the bacteria with plenty of food. It is recommended that all sweets be consumed at the same time as a meal because the excess saliva that is created while eating will help to dilute and then wash the sugars away.

Sugar remains as one of the main reasons for dental issues, here is why:

Bacteria in your mouth eat the sugar and then release an acid that damages the teeth. Once decay begins, if the cavity remains untreated, it will continue to develop and eventually result in a painful toothache.

Dairy and Protein

Dairy products contain casein, which helps neutralize the acids that the bacteria in the mouth produce. These products include yogurt and cheese.

Eating lean proteins rich in phosphorous strengthens the teeth. These proteins include eggs, meat, poultry, milk and fish. Other forms of fiber, minerals and protein include beans, seeds and nuts.

Cleaning Your Teeth When Brushing is Delayed

If the ability to brush is delayed, chewing sugar-free gum or fibrous vegetables can help clean your teeth.

Strong, healthy teeth can prevent tooth loss and reduce the likelihood of developing painful conditions like temporomandibular jaw (TMJ) syndrome. At Heritage Oral Surgery & Implant Centers, we replace missing teeth and treat TMJ. To learn more, contact one of our centers.