Temporomandibular Joint Disorder and Oral Hygiene


Whether you are newly diagnosed with temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, suspect you may have it or have been living with a diagnosis for any amount of time, you may be wondering in what – if any – ways your oral care routine should change with your diagnosis. Here’s what you should know about living with TMJ disorder – and how your care should change once you’re diagnosed.

It’s a well-documented fact that poor oral health can worsen almost any situation – TMJ disorder included. After all, if your jaw is already in pain, having cavities or gum disease isn’t going to help matters. So naturally, caring for your oral health is a big deal and will be an even bigger deal going forward after your diagnosis with TMJD.

Get Creative

With TMJ disorder, opening and closing the mouth can not only be agonizingly painful, but it can also be an exercise in futility. This doesn’t bode well for brushing and flossing, but it doesn’t give you the green light to skip caring for your teeth. It just means you need to get creative. How so? Well, instead of trying in vain to use traditional toothbrushes and floss, get creative. Try a smaller brush, floss picks or an interdental pick-brush used for cleaning braces.

If your jaw is still too stiff to open, try heating it with a warm compress for 20 minutes before you try to brush. Another trick you might try is showering first, allowing the hot water to loosen your jaw muscles, or even brushing in the shower.

Don’t Skip Exams

Just because you are undergoing neuromuscular orthodontic treatment for TMJD does not mean you should skip your regular oral health exam. There are things that we screen for during a regular oral health exam (such as oral cancer) that would not necessarily be checked for following a neuromuscular orthodontics appointment.

Want to learn more? Call Dr. George’s office at 724-220-2347 to make an appointment today.

Dr. Alexandra S. George

Medically reviewed by Dr. Alexandra S. George - D.D.S., L.Vl.I.F. on November 11th, 2019