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4 Surprising Habits That Worsen TMJ Symptoms

If you are suffering from TMJ pain, the last thing you want to do is aggravate the problem. Here are 4 surprising habits you MUST avoid to protect your oral health.

Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders, commonly referred to as TMJ or TMD, are a group of conditions that cause dysfunction and pain in the jaw joint and the muscles that control jaw movement.

Some of the most common causes of TMJ include:

  • stress
  • grinding/clenching of teeth
  • jaw/head/neck injury
  • osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis in the TM joints
  • dislocation of the soft cushion between the ball and socket

TMJ Treatments


4 Surprising Habits That Will Make Your TMJ Symptoms Worse

If you are experiencing symptoms of TMD, it’s important to visit your local dental clinic as soon as possible because without treatment, TMJ can lead to serious health problems including hearing loss, chronic headaches, and even malnutrition.

Along with the TMJ treatment recommended by your dentist, here are 4 habits you should try to avoid to enhance your jaw comfort and reduce any symptoms:

1. Using Your Teeth As Tools

There are times when your teeth may seem like the perfect tools, but using them to open or cut something can damage them and even exacerbate your TMJ symptoms. To protect your jaw and oral health, make sure to NEVER use your teeth to:

  • open things including bottles, envelopes or plastic packages,
  • chew objects that are not food (eg. pen caps, toothpicks),
  • hold items, even if your hands are full.

Remember these tasks require force and may put stress on your jaw joint/muscles, which can increase your TMJ pain. Always take a moment to find the proper tools (eg. bottle opener, scissors, nail file) and you’ll protect yourself from pain or further damage to your teeth.

3 TMJ Treatments



Smoking is one of the most damaging habits you can have. Not only is it terrible for your teeth, but it also significantly increases your risk of oral cancer, as well as your risk of chronic pain conditions such as TMJ.

5 Tips and Tricks for Quitting Smoking

  1. Start exercising regularly
  2. Take up a new hobby
  3. Reduce your caffeine and alcohol intake
  4. Reduce your stress levels by taking deep breaths or by meditating
  5. Drink plenty of water to speed up your nicotine detox

What Habits To Avoid


3. Eating Chewy/Tough Foods

If you suffer from TMJ pain, it’s important to give your jaw and teeth a break by avoiding foods that are known to cause discomfort. This includes foods such as:

  • tough meat,
  • chewy, sticky foods,
  • hard fruits and vegetables,
  • crunchy cereals,
  • any food that is so big that it forces you to open your mouth very wide.

As part of your TMJ treatment, your dentist will typically advise a soft diet in order to reduce inflammation and stress on the TM joint.

Healthy Foods For Your Teeth


4. Poor Posture

While most people may not be aware of it, it’s true that posture plays a significant role in the alignment of your jaw. Bad posture habits that could be exacerbating your TMJ disorder include rounded shoulders, forward neck, and anterior pelvic tilt.

Improving your posture in an effective TMJ treatment

In order to alleviate any jaw pain you may be experiencing, it’s important to follow these simple tips:

  1. When standing, distribute your body weight evenly to the front, back and sides of the feet
  2. Position your computer straight ahead so you aren’t looking down all day
  3. Take frequent breaks from your desk, move around, and do some shoulder exercises
  4. Sit up straight and align the ears, shoulders, and hips in one vertical line


Call Today

From pain medications to self-care practices and customized mouthguards, our qualified dentists are experienced in a wide range of TMJ treatments to reduce any jaw pain and prevent further damage to your oral health.

Want to know how we can help you?

To find out more about how to reduce your TMD symptoms, or about our affordable and effective TMJ treatments, contact our Calgary dental clinic today at 403-248-2066 or fill in our online contact form.

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