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Lifestyle Changes to Manage Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD)
Most lifestyle changes that might be helpful for TMD involve ways to break habits that might be contributing to your pain, such as grinding your teeth, clenching your jaw, or habitually chewing gum.
- Learn to manage stress
- Wear night guards
- Stop chewing gum
- Avoid opening your mouth very wide
- Eat softer foods
Nearly everyone has some habit that they use to release nervous energy when they feel stressed. In some people, tooth grinding or jaw clenching, also known as bruxism , may contribute to pain in the temporomandibular joint. Finding other ways to manage stress may help decrease your pain.
A night guard is a customized plastic device, usually made by a dentist, which fits over your teeth. The device is worn at night to reduce the damage to teeth and jaw joints caused by bruxism.
Habitual gum chewers sometimes have jaw pain because of overuse. For some people, chewing gum is a nervous habit. If you are a regular gum chewer, consider breaking the habit to see if this improves your symptoms of TMD.
Be aware of how wide you open your mouth. This may give your jaw a chance to rest and heal.
Your doctor might recommend that you eat soft foods to rest your jaw.
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- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 03/2016
- Update Date: 03/15/2015