Studies have shown that if you have temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, leading a stressful life can make your symptoms a lot worse. Unfortunately for most of us, stress is a way of life – especially for women in their childbearing years. TMJ disorder seems to affect a disproportionate number of young women in their childbearing years, with an estimated 90 percent of TMJ disorder sufferers falling into this gender and age group. So, what’s a girl to do to get relief from stress – and TMJ disorder – when you barely get a minute to yourself?
Go the Traditional Route
If you have the time for the tried-and-true methods of relaxation like yoga, massages, meditation and long bubble baths, then go for it! After all, there’s a reason they’re so highly recommended for reducing stress and helping you relax: They work. Plus, yoga has the added benefits of improving your balance and posture, two things that can be adversely affected by TMJ disorder. Similarly, both massages and long soaks with Epsom salts can help relieve tired, overworked muscles that may be tense due to TMJ disorder. Focus on the neck, shoulders, back and even the back of the head and mandibles for TMJ relief.
Stuck in traffic? Overwhelmed by a long day of chores? Don’t just rely on soothing music – try a podcast or book on tape. It doesn’t have to be soothing, just entertaining enough to distract you from whatever is stressing you out. Laughing along to your favorite comedian’s book can make your drive home fly by, and listening to the latest bestseller while you mop the floors eliminates the need to choose between doing one over the other. You can even learn a new language on tape.
Get a Hobby
Yes, hobbies sometimes require a time commitment, but they can also be portable. For instance, knitting, needlepoint, sudoku and even journaling can be done in the carpool or on the train ride to work or while sitting forever on hold on a phone call. Painting or drawing may require a little more time and stillness but can be done slowly as your schedule permits. Depending on the instrument, learning to play a musical instrument can be kind of noisy, but it has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety and depression, as well as lower blood pressure and decrease the heart rate.
Of course, we all breathe all the time, but learning deep-breathing exercises can benefit you in myriad situations. From stressful work meetings to traffic and, yes, even dental exams, training yourself to breathe in a relaxing manner will teach your brain to relax, even in stressful situations. Best of all, nobody will even know you’re doing it, so you can regain your inner peace without anyone ever realizing you lost it. Bonus points, when you’re in tune with what your body is doing, you are less likely to grind your teeth or clench your shoulders, both of which have negative impacts on your temporomandibular joint.
How can dentistry help relax you? Well, neuromuscular dentistry isn’t the same as general dentistry. It’s designed to realign the bite and relax the temporomandibular joint to help reduce TMJ disorder pain. While you may not notice an immediate change, over time you will start to see your jaw relax and the urge to clench it reduced.
As your body relaxes, much of the stress-related pain you experience with your TMJ disorder symptoms should subside, too – and what better way to reduce stress than to not have TMJ disorder pain to stress about anymore?
To learn more about how neuromuscular dentistry can help your TMJ disorder symptoms, give Dr. George a call at 724-220-2347.