Unexpected TMJ Triggers, According to a Las Vegas Dentist

Temporomandibular joint disorder, also called TMJ or TMD, affects the jaw joint and surrounding muscles, causing jaw pain, headaches, and difficulty with everyday activities like eating and talking. While you may already know about some triggers for TMJ like chewing gum or clenching your teeth, there are some unexpected habits that could be making your condition worse. Our Las Vegas dentist explores some of these unexpected triggers and how to manage them to make our TMJ treatment more effective.

Sit Up Straight: Poor Posture Affects Your Jaw

Believe it or not, how you carry yourself can contribute to TMJ/TMD pain. When we slouch or hunch, the muscles in our body compensate, including the ones in your jaw. That puts pressure on your jaw joint. 

To prevent this, work on maintaining good posture throughout the day, especially when sitting at a desk or using electronic devices. Hold your phone up in front of your face instead of looking down at it, and try some stretches to release back and neck tension. Think of these steps as akin to the orthodontic care you may need to treat your TMJ—you need to align both your body and your teeth to combat jaw pain. 

Switch to Decaf: Caffeine Makes You Tense

Like bad posture, caffeinated beverages can cause muscle tension. That can, in turn, cause jaw pain. If you have jaw pain, cutting out or limiting caffeine is a simple but effective tactic to help support your other TMJ treatments. 

This is also a form of preventative care. Your teeth will be better protected if you lay off the coffee or soda, as these drinks can stain and damage enamel and contribute to cavities. By eliminating just this one part of your diet, you help support your overall oral health as an added bonus. 

Change Your Sleep: Lie on Your Back or Side

You may prefer to sleep on your stomach, but this position can be problematic for your TMD. Stomach sleepers have to turn their heads to one side, which puts pressure on the jaw joint. Try sleeping on your back or side. In fact, you’ll likely find that the quality of your sleep improves since jaw tension can contribute to poor sleep. 

Use Scissors: Don’t Rip Open Things with Your Teeth

Humans are impatient, and when we want something, we want it right away. Sometimes, when plastic packaging won’t budge, we resort to using our teeth rather than waste time looking for scissors. After all, our teeth are made for cutting through meat—why should plastic be any different?

In reality, this can put a lot of stress on your jaw. In fact, the Cleveland Clinic lists substituting your teeth for tools as one of the factors that makes TMJ worse. It’s best to avoid using your teeth for anything other than eating. 

Consult an Expert: Get Tips Just for You from Our Dentist

Taking these steps is an important part of TMJ treatment, but our Las Vegas dental team can do much more for you. From creating custom mouth guards to developing an orthodontic treatment plan to realign your teeth and bite, Beyond Dental can both treat your symptoms and address the root of your jaw pain. Reach out for a TMD consultation.

More to Explore