What can YOU do to relieve problems with your jaw joints or pain in the muscles around your face?
Disorders of the jaw joints and the muscles that control the movement of the lower are collectively referred to as temporomandibular disorders and are quite common. Only very rarely do these disorders require surgery, with the nine out of ten patients getting better with some form of bite guard and more importantly some self-care. Things YOU can do to help to resolve your jaw joint problems and reduce the tension in the muscles around the face include:
- Keeping your teeth apart. The proper resting position for your jaw is with your teeth slightly apart and your lips gently together. This allows your jaw joints and muscles time to rest and heal. Your teeth should only touch during chewing, swallowing and sometimes speaking.
- Avoid opening your mouth very wide.
- Avoid habits like chewing finger nails or gum.
- Avoid straining your neck and shoulders by poor posture. This can occur when working at a computer or holding the phone between your neck and shoulder for a long time.
- Eat nutritious meals that do not require hard or prolonged chewing. A soft diet is particularly useful at times when the symptoms are more intense.
- Avoid caffeine and smoking. Both of these are stimulants which excite the nerves of your body. If you are experiencing pain, any stimulants can make the pain seem worse and increase muscle fatigue.
- Take painkillers that you would normally take for a headache (paracetamol/ibuprofen). Only take these for short periods while the pain is intense and never exceed the recommended dose on the packet.
- Try to give yourself 15 minutes each day to relax.
- Be patient. Most patients find that their symptoms resolve with simple measures alone over a period of time.
In conjunction with the above measures we recommend you see a dentist for a personalised treatment programme and the construction of an appropriate bite guard.
If you require any further information about temporomandibular disorders please visit our Jaw Joint Disorders page or do not hesitate to contact us.
We look forward to helping you.
Ritesh and Devanshee Mody