The jaw is an important part of the body. It allows us to open and close our mouths to chew, speak and even breathe. Naturally, when the jaw is injured, it takes a toll on our quality of life, so avoiding or eliminating injury to the jaw is very important. Sometimes we have no control over the shape our jaw is in, like when conditions like temporomandibular joint dysfunction are present. But that doesn’t mean we are powerless to stop the pain and prevent future damage. Whether you have temporomandibular joint dysfunction or you just want to keep your jaw in great shape, here are some things you can do to minimize pain, reduce injury and improve flexibility in the jaw.
Don’t Use Your Jaw for Support
Bored? Tired? It’s easy to prop your head up by resting your chin in your hands when you’re feeling lethargic, but try to avoid this behavior, as it pushes the jaw up and can cause pain or worsen misalignment. The same goes for other unnatural movements of the jaw, so use your hand to hold your phone (don’t rest it between your chin and shoulder) and if you happen to play an instrument like the violin, take a break if you are experiencing temporomandibular joint pain while you play.
Do Jaw Stretches
Yes, you can stretch your jaw, and, yes, it can help keep muscles relaxed. There are several jaw exercises you can do with TMJ dysfunction. If you are interested in learning how to do these exercises, please speak to Dr. George for proper instruction. Don’t start a jaw exercise regimen on your own.
Watch What You Eat
Very crunchy or very chewy foods will sometimes worsen TMJ dysfunction pain, but eating these foods should be fine if your jaw is healthy. The important part here is to know your own body. If you are experiencing TMJ dysfunction pain, skip the gum and the hard pretzels and stick to softer, easier-to-chew foods that won’t work your jaw so much.
If your jaw is bothering you, it’s time to be seen by Dr. George. It could be nothing, or it could be something more serious like temporomandibular joint dysfunction. Thankfully there are treatment options that can help you live life pain free. To schedule an appointment, please call 724-220-2347.