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Jaw pain can be excruciating, extremely frustrating, and impossible to ignore. Once your jaw has been operating in a dysfunctional way, it takes concerted effort and careful treatment to retrain it. Instead of struggling through jaw rehabilitation, why not avoid that unhappy outcome in the first place?
Reacting when you notice the first signs of a tense or painful jaw will make a significant difference. Between options like stress management and night guards, you can find a way to keep your jaw muscles in check. This will not only prevent discomfort and dysfunction, but help you carry out daily tasks like chewing and speaking without difficulty. Keep reading for preventive tips for your jaw, and get in touch for professional help with jaw pain.
Common Causes of Jaw Pain
Your jaw is unique, and what causes pain for one person might not bother you. There are some overarching factors you can look for; these are the most prevalent reasons patients develop TMJ disorders:
- Rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis
- An injury to the jaw that has damaged the TMJ
- Chronic grinding, also known as bruxism
- A connective tissue disease that affects the jaw joint
- Advanced tooth decay leading to an abscess or other serious dental problem
- Excessive stress leading to tension buildup in the jaw
Preventing Jaw Pain from Taking Hold
While conditions like arthritis may be out of your control, there are other ways to keep your jaw healthy, strong and discomfort-free.
Find What Makes You Feel Relaxed
Personal relaxation can be tricky to figure out. We all have our own sources of calm and comfort – and yours might be tough to find. Consider what makes you feel better after a long, stressful day – and don’t turn to tobacco or alcohol as a quick fix. Drinking before bed can actually trigger nighttime teeth grinding.
No matter what, you need to find sources of anxiety relief. Some people feel better after they exercise and make sure to leave time for a jog or long walk after work. Others find benefits in the calming effects of meditation or yoga. Others prefer creative outlets, like playing an instrument or keeping a journal. Take some time to consider what speaks to you, and pencil in some personal time whenever possible.
Managing your stress will not only help you prevent jaw pain, but improve your mood, quality of sleep, and daily satisfaction – there’s nothing to lose. Stress causes muscle tension, particularly in the head, neck, shoulders and jaw. When you’re experiencing pain in those areas, it’s near-impossible to ignore. Plus, this ends up exacerbating the initial stress because you’re cranky and uncomfortable. Make sure you work in your destressing time to avoid this cycle.
Try a Night Guard
A night guard will help you prevent bruxism, chronic clenching and grinding. Many of us grind our teeth while we’re sleeping and are not conscious of the harmful movements of our jaws. This means that it can be tricky to notice bruxism on your own, and you’ll benefit from checking in with your dentist. A professional will notice the subtle symptoms of grinding and recommend a night guard.
Wearing a guard while you sleep protects your enamel from the effects of grinding. Certain splints will also immobilize your lower jaw to prevent harmful jaw movements. We will evaluate which type of guard might be best.
Ask Your Dentist Whether You Might Benefit from Orthodontic Treatment
If your teeth aren’t properly aligned, it’s difficult to find a comfortable position for your bite. This leads to your jaws clenching and teeth gnashing together. Long-term malocclusion can lead to a TMJ disorder or other problems. Ask your dentist whether you might benefit from orthodontic treatment. Straightening your teeth will align your bite properly and allow your jaws to fit together comfortably.
Schedule Regular Dental Exams
Seeing your dentist on a regular schedule helps you spot problems before they get serious. Book yours today!