The temporomandibular joints, TMJ for short, connect your jaw to the bottom of your skull. This hinge allows you to open and close your jaw with ease. For people suffering from TMJ disorders, jaw pain or TMJ flare-ups sometimes make regular things such as chewing, talking, or even simply opening the mouth difficult. Here are three simple changes you can make for relief without having to break your bank account.

Jaw Exercises

Stressful days can cause you to grind or clench your teeth, which will lead to a flare up in TMJ disorder symptoms. An easy way to stop this bad habit is to introduce the relaxed jaw exercise into your daily routine.  Simply rest your tongue on the roof of your mouth, allowing for your teeth to come apart and for your jaw to relax and get a break.

Jaw stretching is another exercise that is known to help soothe flare-ups. To do this, slowly open your mouth as wide as comfortably possible with your tongue in its normal position and hold for 10 seconds. Then, with your mouth closed, glide your jaw back and forth 5-10 times.

These exercises will help reduce the muscle and joint tension in your jaw, offering a more long-term relief than cold or hot compresses.

Avoid Hard or Chewy Foods

It’s important that people with TMJ watch what types of food they eat. Chewy, tough, or crunchy foods can overextend the jaw and cause increased jaw pain. This doesn’t always mean that you need to completely cut said food out of your diet. There are plenty of different ways to make food softer and easier to eat. Can’t bite into that delicious apple without fear of a flare-up? Try canned fruit! If your worried that cutting out tough meat might mean you don’t get enough of your daily protein, try softer options like eggs, chicken, or fish. Vegetable skins can also be tough, but peeling and cooking them is a delicious way to make the work for your jaw easier.

Talk to Your Dentist

While there are plenty of remedies and exercises to help reduce TMJ pain, there’s a limit to what you can do from home by yourself. If your TMJ pain is constant and unrelenting, it’s time to consult your dentist. Tell them all you’ve done to reduce the pain, and they will help you figure out your next steps. Waiting too long to talk to a dentist could result in further, more permanent damage to your jaw. Not to mention the more you’ll have to spend to fix it. Constant TMJ pain is not something anyone should have to live with.

For more information on how you can take control of your TMJ disorders, please contact us.