Can Smoking Hurt Your TMJs?

Can Smoking Hurt Your TMJ

This Thursday is The Great American Smokeout, an annual holiday created by the American Cancer Society. Every third Thursday in November, the organization encourages smokers to give up their harmful habit, even if only for a single day (but hopefully for a lifetime!). You probably already know that using tobacco products can impair your lung function, raise your risk for various forms of cancer, make you more likely to have a stroke, and more. What you might not have realized is that smoking can also have a major impact on your TMJs, or temporomandibular joints. These important bands of tissue connect your temples with your lower jaw so you can eat, speak, and smile comfortably. At MedCenter TMJ, we help patients suffering from TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder) manage their conditions and live healthier lives. In honor of The Great American Smokeout and as part of our commitment to improving our patients’ wellbeing, we’ve devoted this week’s blog to the link between smoking and TMJ function.

Smoking Statistics

Numerous studies have clearly connected smoking and TMD. Consider the following:

Explaining the Link

Why might smoking worsen or help to bring about TMD? At MedCenter TMJ, we’re well aware that your overall health has a major impact on your TMJs. Diet, hormones, stress, sleep deprivation, and a number of other lifestyle factors can affect your TMJ function. While the particular causes for the link between smoking and TMD are still somewhat unclear, tobacco use may intensify TMD symptoms because it is correlated with sleep issues and emotional stress. Smoking also diminishes your body’s overall immune function, making it difficult for your joints to operate or heal properly. Nicotine in particular can constrict important blood vessels in your joints and surrounding tissues. In addition, the physical motion of smoking can stress your jaw or pull your joints out of alignment.

Relieving Your Symptoms

Are you a smoker with TMD? You may be able to alleviate your symptoms by:

  • Using warm compresses.
  • Wearing one of our custom-made oral appliances.
  • Eating a soft food diet.
  • Coming in to our office for more nuanced diagnosis and treatment recommendations.
  • Ceasing use of tobacco products. WebMD suggests that eating a healthier diet, gradually weaning yourself off of smoking, turning to friends and family for assistance, rewarding yourself for your successes, and other techniques may help you kick this habit for good.

Stop Smoking and Start Treating Your TMD

Celebrate The Great American Smokeout by making a concerted effort to quit smoking. Stopping this habit could markedly improve your general and oral health. To learn more about TMD or schedule a consultation with one of our doctors, contact MedCenter TMJ today.

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