TMJ rarely escalates into a disorder that requires surgery. But even mild temporomandibular dysfunction can cause you pain and stress that impacts your day-to-day quality of life. If you have intermittent jaw pain or muscle problems, go see your dentist or doctor. The faster they can diagnose a condition, whether it’s TMJ disorder or not, the faster you can start the right treatment plans to reduce or erase the symptoms.

For most cases of TMJ, lifestyle changes and over the counter pain medication can make the condition fade away. Here are four changes and tips to give your jaw relief.

Switch to soft foods.

Hard and crunchy foods can make TMJ disorder and other jaw-related muscle pain worse. The extra pressure of chewing through food not only runs the risk of aggravating the condition, but it may make you eat and drink less which causes additional stress. Instead, temporarily change your diet to soft foods like soups, yogurt, and scrambled eggs.

Treat the pain.

Treat the pain that marks your TMJ disorder. This might not cure the actual condition, but it can reduce the stress you put on your jaw or neck. Just be sure to try other treatment methods at the same time. Also, don’t let pain relief or anti-inflammatory medication fool you into thinking the condition is gone before it is.

Avoid movements that aggravate the condition.

Some unconscious movements trigger the development of TMJ. Other movements can aggravate the condition once you have it. Try to avoid clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth. If you frequently find yourself doing it, set a quiet timer for every five minutes at work to catch yourself and consciously relax your jaw.

Consider a night guard.

But if you’re grinding your teeth at night, you can’t consciously make yourself stop. Talk to your dentist about a night guard that can get rid of the habit or at least put less stress on your jaw. Go to Exquisite Smiles here to schedule an appointment and find the right guard for your particular jaw and type of TMJ.