Jaw pain is often shrugged off by many people, mainly because it doesn’t seem like a serious health concern. However, unknown to many, it can lead to complications that prevent one from living a happy and satisfying life. If you or a loved one struggles because of TMJ disorders (TMJD), it might help to learn about the different risk factors you should avoid or manage. One example is bruxism – a condition that causes teeth clenching or grinding. Learn more about bruxism and how it can affect your chances of experiencing lasting Oklahoma City, OK TMJ relief.
Bruxism – A Problem That Affects Millions of Americans
The Sleep Foundation explains that millions of Americans unconsciously grind or clench their teeth. However, most people aren’t unaware of this behavior because it mainly occurs at night. It is common in younger people but can also affect older people, especially those under immense stress because of work, financial troubles, and failed relationships.
Notably, occasional bruxism causes little to no damage to the jaw and the temporomandibular joint. However, when done regularly, teeth grinding and clenching can trigger mild to intense pain that can potentially take the joy out of your life.
Studies note that chronic bruxism can lead to several problems, such as:
- Weakened or damaged teeth
- Exposed roots
- Receding gums
- Inflamed or irritated jaw joint
- Dental damage
- Disturbed sleep
- Facial and joint pain
- Sore and irritated gums
- Jaw pain and stiffness
- Loose jaw bones
Coping with Bruxism and TMJ Pain
Living with constant jaw pain can be miserable. It could prevent you from enjoying meals and chatting with loved ones. It can also leave you constantly fearing sudden bouts of the jaw and facial pain. Thankfully, managing or eliminating bruxism and lowering your risks for TMJ pain is possible by following some of our helpful tips below:
Become aware of your behavior
If you aren’t sure if you have bruxism, you should look out for the tale-telling effects of the behavior. A few notable examples of these include:
- Tired or sore jaws
- A dull jaw pain
- Changes in the shape or alignment of your teeth
- Unexplained loss of teeth or fillings
Alternatively, you can ask a family member, partner, or roommate to check if you clench or grind your teeth while asleep.
Work on your stressors
A 2020 case study found that 97 percent of people with bruxism report feeling stressed or overwhelmed. This is why we often remind our patients to manage their stressors to amplify their efforts in finding Oklahoma City, OK TMJ relief. Here are a few stress-relieving tips you can include in your daily or weekly routine:
- Pamper yourself each week, especially after working on several stressful tasks
- Connect with loved ones and enjoy their company
- Boost your health with the help of vitamin and mineral-rich food and drinks
- Find something to laugh or smile about each day
- Stretch in between long work shifts to release tension around the shoulders, neck, and head
- Find fun and pleasurable activities to engage in, especially after an overwhelming week
- Take advantage of nature walks and road trips
- Build a robust support system, especially one that can understand your TMJD symptoms
Make simple lifestyle adjustments
The temporomandibular joints are like other body parts that suffer from wear and tear over time. Hence, it would be wise to practice lifestyle adjustments to help ease or reduce the mechanical strain on your jaws. Check out these lifestyle tips that many of our patients have tried following to prevent excessive teeth grinding and clenching and, to an extent, relieve jaw pain:
- Avoid chewy food items like gum or gummy candies
- Never put pens, pencils, and other similar items inside the mouth
- Steer clear of caffeinated products like coffee, cocoa, and cola (to lessen sleeping problems and nervousness that usually comes with caffeine intake)
- Practice simple jaw exercises to release tension build-up in the jaws and improve jaw muscle strength and flexibility
- Place a warm washcloth or hot compress on your cheek to help relax your TMJ and jaw muscles
- Avoid or limit alcohol intake because dentists explain that some alcoholic beverages stimulate an inflammatory response
- Switch to a soft diet, especially when you feel extreme jaw pain
- Avoid opening your mouth excessively to reduce pressure and mechanical strain on your jaws
- Ask your dentist if you need to wear a night guard to protect your teeth from your unconscious teeth grinding and clenching during bedtime
Book Your Consultation with Dr. Sheppard to Enjoy Oklahoma City, OK TMJ relief
Besides the helpful pain management tips we shared above, you might also find it beneficial to get your C1 and C2 bones checked. These topmost neck bones play a crucial role in several physiological functions, including keeping the head and the vertebral bones aligned. When the head tilts, even the tiniest fraction away from the central axis, you become susceptible to problems like irritated or inflamed TMJ.
Additionally, you might also have increased pain sensitivity. That’s because the uppermost neck bones encase the brainstem tissue – an organ that performs essential body functions like pain signal transmission. Studies note that the brainstem contains a network of circuits regulating pain and pressure signals sent to and from the nervous system. Hence, several things can go wrong when something goes amiss in the C1 and C2 alignment.
If you often experience TMJ pain and have bruxism, we suggest exploring NUCCA chiropractic. After all, it is a chiropractic technique that helps address posture problems, especially along the upper area of the spine. Several people with bruxism and TMJ disorders have found hope and healing thanks to their visits to our NUCCA doctor. It’s a gentle approach to helping the C1 and C2 bones ease back into their original alignment, allowing you to restore your spinal column’s integrity and avoid forcing the jaw joints to rub on each other.
Take advantage of NUCCA care to begin experiencing Oklahoma City, OK TMJ relief. We suggest calling us at 405-378-3100 to book your appointment with Dr. Jennifer Sheppard. You may also drop us a line through our contact form. We would be happy to help you figure out what your body needs to cope better with debilitating symptoms or conditions.
To schedule a consultation with Dr. Sheppard, call our Oklahoma City office at 405-873-8134. You can also click the button below. If you are outside of the local area, you can find an Upper Cervical Doctor near you at www.uppercervicalawareness.com.