We’re now fully into fall, which means gone with the warm and in with the cooler weather. As the leaves change and autumnal breeze begins to blow, could your TMJs (temporomandibular joints) be affected? Potentially, yes! Your TMJ connects your temples with your lower jaw so you can move your mouth. If they don’t function properly, you might not be able to talk, chew, or even smile like you used to. At MedCenter TMJ, Dr. Ronald C. Auvenshine, Dr. Nathan Pettit, and our team help patients manage their TMJ disorder (TMD) to improve their comfort and quality of life. We’re always looking for ways to make your life easier. As it turns out, many factors can influence your TMJ function, including lifestyle, diet, stress and more. Read to learn more about how chilly fall weather could affect your TMJs and how we can help if it does.
The Basics of Barometric Pressure
You’ve probably heard people say that their bodies can “feel it” when a storm is coming or when the weather is about to change. While this may sound like mumbo-jumbo, it’s actually true! That’s because, as the seasons shift and temperatures fluctuate, barometric pressure changes. This amount of force exerted on the Earth by the atmosphere can put real pressure on your joints. As Weather.com explains: “Blame it on barometric pressure: any change in pressure, or the weight of the air pressing against the surface of the earth, can trigger joint pain or headaches in some people.”
If tearing, stretching, misalignment, or other damage has already weakened your TMJs, they might be especially sensitive to these autumnal adjustments. Sports medicine practitioner Dr. James Gladstone explains: “[joint] tissues have nerve endings in them, so they’re going to feel changes in the weather as tightness in the joint, or stiffness… Depending on how severe joint [pain] is, patients should see their doctors to create a changing-weather treatment plan.” If your TMJs begin to ache or you begin to feel a “lockjaw” sensation coming on, the changing atmosphere may very well be a factor! We’d be happy to help you formulate a treatment plan to combat the changing weather.
Why Cold Weather is Worse
Barometric pressure shifts every time the temperature changes, so why is fall an especially tough season for your TMJs? This season can be the worst for your joints because the atmosphere is both adjusting and becoming colder. In warm, dry weather, your joints tend to be naturally looser, but they tend to tighten up, tremble, and contract in this chilly, rainy time of year. This factor makes fall a double whammy for TMJ discomfort, which is why you need to be especially proactive about your oral health during this season.
How You Can Fight Fall TMJ Pain
With our help, you don’t have to suffer through autumn with jaw pain, headaches, muscle stiffness, earaches, dizziness, and other TMD symptoms! If your TMJs begin to act up, we recommend:
- Wearing an occlusal orthotic appliance to keep your jaw in proper position. We can custom make this device for you and explain when and how to wear it.
- Eating a soft-food diet (warm, creamy soups are a great idea during the fall!) so you don’t have to burden your jaw with harsher chewing motions.
- Staying as warm as you can! Turning on the heater, using an electric blanket, and wearing a scarf around your neck could help you fight the cold (and your TMD).
- Coming to see us for a consultation or checkup. Dr. Auvenshine, Dr. Pettit, and our team can examine your jaw, go over your medical records, and discuss your symptoms with you to provide more specific tips.
Embrace Autumn Without TMJ Pain
You don’t have to struggle through this season with TMD! To learn more about maintaining your TMJ health or schedule an appointment, contact us today.