How Hydration Affects TMD

Side view of young redheaded woman wearing hat and drinking from water bottle.

You’ve probably heard that staying well-hydrated is beneficial for your health. But how exactly do you ensure that you’re drinking enough water? And how does this help with your jaw pain?

What Happens When I’m Dehydrated?

Water is absolutely essential to life. In particular, the concentration of salts in our body fluids can have drastic effects on our health, and change the way we feel in our day-to-day lives. When we are dehydrated, the salt concentration of those fluids increases above the normal range, causing an array of unpleasant symptoms that range from drowsiness to muscle cramps or spasms.

How Is Dehydration Related To Jaw Pain?

Our temporomandibular joint (TMJ), like our other joints, features a substance that acts as a lubricant and provides nutrients to the joint cartilage. This substance needs water to do its job properly—meaning that when our body fluid levels are low, there is a corresponding decrease in the effectiveness of our joint lubrication. Under normal circumstances this doesn’t really matter, but as we age and our joints grow less efficient, it becomes more and more important to ensure that our joints remain hydrated.

This is especially true for people with temporomandibular disorders (TMD). Dehydration can exacerbate existing symptoms, meaning that “flare ups” in your condition may be tied to the fact that you’re not drinking enough water throughout the day. If you have TMD, you may have already found that any associated pain, discomfort, headaches, and jaw-locking are at their worst when you’re dehydrated. The correlation isn’t immediately obvious, however, and many sufferers aren’t aware of the importance of good hydration in managing their condition.

What Is Good Hydration?

Staying well-hydrated is more complicated than it sounds. It’s not simply a matter of drinking plenty of water—though this is definitely the most important step you can take! Also essential is that you eat water-rich foods, which help you retain the water in your body; and that you limit diuretics such as coffee, which cause increased loss of water through urination.

The recommended daily water intake is about three liters for men, and two liters for women, though of course this depends on your body mass as well as how much water you’re losing throughout the day (by sweating, for example).

What Else Do I Need To Know?

Hydration is just one of many factors that influence the symptoms of TMD. Regular passive stretching, moist heat, and the use of an orthotic appliance can also help to ease your symptoms and potentially tackle the problem at its root. Successful management of the condition depends upon a thorough knowledge of its causes and the appropriate methods of alleviation. We pride ourselves on our longstanding professional interest in TMD, and our considerable experience treating it.

Discussing things with a professional is the first step to making a new beginning. Contact MedCenter TMJ to discuss your TMD symptoms, build a management plan, and get on the road to healing today!

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