Things that Can Irritate or Harm your TMJs
Our jaws can do miraculous things if you think about it. We apply pounds of pressure in the hundreds range when we bite. Also, ” Our second molars can exert a bite force between 1,100 and 1,300 Newtons, beating the orang-utan, gibbon, and our former ancestors.” That is pretty wild. However, we are as only as good as our equipment. If our jaws and TMJs aren’t in tip-top shape, it could lead to poor quality of life and a bite with less capacity. There are things that we do in our routine, out of habit or just preference that can give our jaw a workout, as well as our TMJ. Sometimes, it is a necessity. Other times, it could cause unnessecarry wear and tear on our joints. So we are going to look at what TMJ specialists say will wear down or cause an issue with TMD.
One of the most damaging things that can happen to muscle or a joint is excess repetitive motion. Motion is an important part of our daily lives. Anyone who is aware of the concept of muscular atrophy could tell you as much. However, not many people realize that the same thing can happen at the opposite end of the spectrum. According to Web MD, “Repetitive motion injuries make up over 50% of all athletic-related injuries seen by doctors. ” And this sort of thing is not limited to athletes either. A simple action like typing, walking, or even chewing can cause an injury from the overuse of muscles, tendons, and joints.
When you aren’t repeating the same chewing motion, you are giving your TMJs a chance to rest and recover. However, when you are consistently chewing you are decreasing the chances of letting those joints recover properly. This sort of repetitive motion will not only increase the likelihood of TMD, but it can also already wear down your TMJs if you are already suffering from TMD.
Resting your Jaw on Your Hand
A lot of people tend to engage in subconscious behavior. These behaviors, when unchecked, can lead to issues that go unnoticed until it gets drastic. One of the big ones that most people don’t notice right away is where we rest our chins while reading. Sometimes, on a rainy day, it is very common to simply rest your chin on your hand, or on a table for a 15-minute rest session while you are “killing time”.
However, when you do this you are not only keeping your jaw closed shut. You are also applying pressure to your TMJs and can outright move your joint’s disc out of alignment. If you catch yourself doing this, and you are feeling some sort of pain on your jaw, you might want to stop. Avoiding resting your chin on your hand can allow your joint to heal properly in the right place.
Grinding your Teeth
Bruxism or grinding your teeth can not only damage your enamel but can cause some issues with your TMJs. Grinding creates a lot of unnessecarry tension on your TMJ thanks to the repetitive motion of side by side movement. And not only does this action happen on a subconscious level, but it can also happen in your sleep. If you think this is happening, you should really see a dentist or a TMJ specialist in your area, and they can fit you with a night retainer to keep it from happening. However, a TMJ specialist may not fix everything the underlying issue of why you are grinding your teeth in the first place. Look into any stressors, decrease your caffeine intake, and massage your jaw, if you think you are suffering from any grinding issues.
Watch Your Posture
A lot of people are so good at compartmentalizing and categorizing things that they forget just how connected our body parts truly are. Most people forget that our jaw and head are both connected to our spine. A spine that is responsible for the balance and weight distribution of the head. Verywellhealththings.com explains this in a very direct and understandable way. “Your jaw operates best when your head is situated above your cervical spine and your posture is upright. If you slouch, this can change the way your jaw’s muscles work and the way your jaw opens and closes.”
A TMJ specialist who is aware of possible posture issues may assign you to a physical therapist who can correct a posture issue like this.