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Have TMJ? Break These Bad Habits

March 14, 2017

Biting your nails, eating junk food, drinking too much coffee, playing with your hair, procrastinating, overcommitting…the list of bad habits goes on and on. Whether your bad habit is one of these we’ve listed or something else, your bad habits may be affecting your health. For those who have been diagnosed with temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, your bad habits may be causing increased TMJ pain.

What are some of the worst habits for those with TMJ pain? Find out more about each one and learn how you can start to break the habit on your own:

Biting your nails forces your jaw to work in ways that it was not intended to work. This unnatural movement can aggravate your TMJ pain, causing unnecessary discomfort. How can you stop yourself from biting your nails? Give these ideas a try:
-Take care of your nails by trimming and filing them regularly.
-Invest in a professional manicure to keep them looking nice.
-Use a nail polish designed specifically for deterring nail biting.
-Ask your friends and family to help you kick the habit by calling attention to your unconscious nail biting.

Whether you find yourself grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw at night or throughout the day, both can lead to increased TMJ-related jaw pain. Work on breaking this habit before it causes ongoing TMJ pain by trying these methods:
-Manage your stress and anxiety levels. Stress and anxiety are closely tied to tooth grinding and jaw clenching.
-The next time you have an appointment with your TMJ specialist, inquire about a mouth piece to protect your teeth and jaw.
-Start to train yourself by positioning your tongue in between your teeth throughout the day to keep your teeth from touching.

Your teeth were never meant to be a substitute for scissors or other sharp tools. By using your teeth like they are scissors, you put yourself at risk of developing increased TMJ pain because of the unusual positions and movements you’re making with your teeth and jaw. Change things up and give your jaw a break. Here’s some ways you can start breaking this habit:
-Carry a small pair of scissors with you, possibly from a nail kit, to snip bags or packaging open without using your teeth.
-Ask others for help if you can’t open any packaging—they may have something sharp with them to make it easier to open.

No matter how great they taste, there are just some foods that cause more TMJ pain than they’re worth. Staying away from foods that are hard or crunchy can help you avoid moving your jaw in unnatural ways while you’re chewing. Break this habit by avoiding certain foods, including:
-Some fruits and vegetables- apples, raw carrots and celery
-Caramels, taffies and hard chocolate candy bars
-Crunchy cereals and granolas
-Snacks like popcorn or chips

Breaking a bad habit can take time, so don’t get frustrated if these small changes end up taking longer than expected. The time investment will be worth it when your TMJ pain starts to decrease. If you’re having trouble managing your TMJ pain, or breaking your bad habits, it may be time to make an appointment with a TMJ specialist. Dr. Mitakides in Dayton, Ohio, is now accepting new patients! Learn more about The TMJ Treatment Center today and schedule an appointment to meet with the doctor to begin managing your TMJ pain.