TMJ Disorder and Halloween Are a Scary Combination

Living with temporomandibular joint disorder is scary enough – the pain, the stiffness, the ringing ears. Add Halloween and its candy to the mix, and you’ve got a real nightmare on your hands. But there’s no need to be afraid of Halloween when you have TMJ disorder! Just follow these tips to survive the most frightful time of year without making your TMJ symptoms worse.

Watch What You Eat

Chances are, you probably already know what foods make your TMJ symptoms worse. Halloween poses a unique set of challenges because it often brings foods into the home that may not otherwise be there (really, when was the last time you bought those Dots candies at the supermarket for yourself?). The trick is getting rid of the dangerous ones as soon as possible – or never letting them in to begin with.

• Don’t buy candy you like if it will make your symptoms worse (such as very chewy or crunchy candy).
• If your kids get candy you like that worsens your symptoms, first make sure if they want it. If they don’t, toss it; if they do, let them have one piece a day, but stay away from it yourself!
• Candy isn’t the only way food can hurt this time of year; party food and games can worsen TMJ symptoms, too. Stay away from caramel corn and candy apples, and you should probably skip the bobbing for apples, too.

Lighten Your Load

As parents, we often get stuck carrying around more than we’d like to – and trick or treating is no exception. Problem is, if your TMJ disorder is causing you neck or back pain, you’re probably not the best candidate for lugging around a pillowcase full of mini Snickers all night. Instead, try pulling a collapsible wagon or pushing a stroller – even if it’s just for candy. Or make frequent stops to your house or car so you aren’t lugging around 50 pounds of sugar all night.

No, No, No, You Can’t Disguise

Dressing up in costume is arguably the best part of Halloween, but make sure you try on your costume before you buy it and ensure there are no problems with the fit of the costume that would make your TMJ symptoms worse. Heavy fabrics or accessories could put strain on the back and shoulders, and some masks may make speaking or breathing a challenge, something you probably already deal with enough with TMJ disorder.

To make an appointment with Dr. George to discuss your TMJ symptoms, call 724-220-2347.

Dr. Alexandra S. George

Medically reviewed by Dr. Alexandra S. George - D.D.S., L.Vl.I.F. on September 17th, 2018