The Bad Habits You Should Break

When you have pain in your temporomandibular joint, also referred to as TMJ, it can be significant. While at times it can become almost unnoticeable, at other times the pain will be difficult to handle. The causes of TMJ pain are many, but some of them could be caused by some of your own personal habits. Eliminating the habit may help you to eliminate the pain.


The Habits

It is possible that you may even be unaware of some of the habits that can cause pain in your TMJ, which can also be called a temporomandibular joint dysfunction, or TMD. These habits include:


  • Clenching Your Jaw

Clenching your jaw is often a reaction that many people do when they pick something up that is heavy – such as weightlifters. Other people may have this habit through the day and they may not even know it. Clenching teeth and keeping your jaw tight for long periods will cause jaw pain. It can also damage your teeth. Stress can make this problem worse.


  • Grinding Your Teeth

Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, is a habit many people engage in and they are totally unaware of it. This is because they do it in their sleep. Grinding your teeth while you sleep will result in damage to your teeth, causing them to become ground down, cracked or chipped. Dental work that you had done previously can also be damaged. The pressure placed on your jaw joints while you sleep can lead to jaw joint pain.


A major concern with teeth grinding is that there is a possibility that you have sleep apnea. Most people that have this problem are completely unaware of it, but there are some symptoms that can reveal the possibility. Teeth grinding is one of them, since most people with sleep apnea do grind their teeth. A second symptom is snoring loudly – which your bed partner could tell you about. A third symptom is that you are constantly tired.


Because sleep apnea means that your heart and other organs are getting less oxygen than they need to be healthy, it can be a fatal disease. Getting a sleep test can help identify the problem – if you have it, and will also help you find a remedy.


  • Nail Biting

When you are biting your nails, you tend to extend your lower jaw forward. This places stress on your jaw joints. If you are nail-biting often, it can result in TMJ pain.


  • Chewing Gum

If you like to be chewing gum a lot, you could end up with jaw pain. This problem affects young women more than young men. Chewing on gum a lot can overwork your jaw joints. Too much gum chewing can result in damage to your jaw joints, and it may become permanent.


  • Stress

When you are under greater amounts of stress, you are more likely to engage in habits that can cause jaw pain. The above habits – clenching your teeth, teeth grinding, chewing gum, and nail biting, are often increased when you are facing greater stress.


Stress can often be lowered by adding or changing some lifestyle habits. You can reduce it by starting a regular exercise program, listening to music, reading a book, taking a warm shower or bath, or just relaxing with family friends.


Symptoms of TMJ Problems

In addition to jaw pain, you may also have one or more other TMJ symptoms. These may include the following jaw problems:


  • A clicking or popping sound in your jaw when opening or closing it

  • Jaws that get stuck open or closed

  • Ringing in your ears

  • Problems with balance (vertigo or dizziness)

  • Headaches

  • Pain in your neck muscles – especially at the base of your skull

  • Increased fatigue.


Other Possible Causes

Besides the above habits, there are some additional things that could cause jaw pain. This can include:


  • Sinus Pain – An infection in your sinuses can lead to jaw pain. Using medication for sinus relief can help you find out if sinus problems are the cause. If the pain goes away when using it – that is the cause.


  • Cavities

A tooth can become infected and it can spread to your jaw. You will get jaw pain relief when the cavity is treated.


  • Impacted Wisdom Teeth


A wisdom tooth that is impacted can become infected. The infection can spread and cause pain in your jaw joint. To get relief, you will need to have the wisdom tooth extracted, the infection drained, and antibiotics will likely be needed to eliminate the infection.


TMJ Treatment

TMJ pain is often temporary. If you have tried changing the habits mentioned above and still have TMJ pain, seeing a TMJ specialist can help you get the pain relief you need. Beyond the habits that can cause problems, there are a number of other things that could be responsible.


If you have pain in your TMJ jaw joints, or if you have already damaged your teeth from harmful habits, you can get help from Dr. Kumar T. Vadivel, DDS, FDS RCS, MS, a Board Certified Periodontist. He offers a wide range of TMJ treatments, as well as help for teeth grinding. He also offers dental services for all ages and can help protect your teeth and restore your smile. His offices are in the Carrollton, TX, and Grapevine, TX areas accept most dental health plans. For a consultation or dental checkup, you can contact his office today at (817) 756-8578.

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