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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.

General Guidelines for Managing TMD

Learn to Manage Stress

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.

Wear Night Guards

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 clenching and grinding.

Stop Chewing Gum

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.

Avoid Opening Your Mouth Very Wide

Be aware of how wide you open your mouth. This may give your jaw a chance to rest and heal.

Eat Softer Foods

Your doctor might recommend that you eat soft foods to rest your jaw.

References:

Cummings CW. Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery . 4th ed. St. Louis, MO: Mosby; 2005.

Dambro MR. Griffith’s 5-Minute Clinical Consult . Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2006.

Okeson, Jeffrey. Clinical Management of Temporomandibular Disorders and Occlusion . 6th ed. St. Louis, MO: Mosby 2007.

Siccoli MM. Facial pain: a clinical differential diagnosis. Lancet Neurology . 2006;5:257-267.

TMD/TMJ (temporomandibular disorders). American Dental Association website. Available at: http://www.ada.org . Accessed September 17, 2008.

TMJ. American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at: http://www.entnet.org/HealthInformation/tmj.cfm . Accessed September 17, 2008.

TMJ (temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders). National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research website. Available at: http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/OralHealth/Topics/TMJ . Updated August 2008. Accessed September 17, 2008.



Last reviewed February 2014 by Michael Woods, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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