Taking a trip this winter? Suffering from TMD? A vacation can actually help relieve TMD symptoms since relaxation and rest are two ways of alleviating the pain and discomfort associated with TMJ disorders. However, traveling when it is cold out can trigger problems if you aren’t prepared. Keep reading for ways to make traveling less strenuous on TMD if you’re taking winter vacations when it’s cold out.
The pressurization of the airplane, higher altitudes and descents can aggravate TMJ disorders if you get earaches and pains. When it’s cold out, issues like congestion and muscle tightness can make these problems even worse. A few things you can do to circumvent any problems is to take a decongestant before the flight and sip water during the descent. Earplugs may also be helpful.
Handling Long Drives
A long drive can be fun, or it can be stressful. Traffic, bored kids and leg cramping are just a few stressors that you could encounter during a road trip. Two natural reactions to stress are teeth clenching and grinding, both of which can aggravate TMJ pain. Avoid the stress by first having a driving partner. This will give you the opportunity to nap or just kick back so you can enjoy the scenery. A few other ideas include making a music mix to avoid dreaded channel surfing and stocking up on reading material.
Take Your Own Pillow If Possible
Some pillows are better for TMJ than others. You do not need an expensive pillow for a comfortable night’s sleep, but if you’ve already found one that works and provides the right amount of support it can be difficult to go without your pillow. Whenever possible take your pillow along with you. This is easier if you’re driving, but even when flying you can pack your pillow away in a carry-on bag. A good night’s sleep during vacation will be worth the extra baggage fee.
Clothing to Pack
The cold can trigger a variety of changes in the body, many of which can cause adverse reactions for people with TMJ disorders. It is common for people with TMD to experience muscle tightness, muscle spasms, earaches, stiff joints, difficulty opening their mouths and headaches. Combat the cold by packing the right apparel:
- Earmuffs or a hat to keep your ears covered.
- A scarf that can be pulled up around the neck and jaw area.
- Hooded jackets that cover the head.
- Proper athletic gear if you plan to ski, snowboard, hike or bike.
- Socks and shoes that keep the feet comfortable.
- Lots of layers that can be added and taken off as needed.
- A waterproof pair of gloves.
The general idea is to keep as warm as possible from head to toe, because shivering from the cold can actually cause muscle contractions and constriction in the jaw that are problematic for TMJ disorders.
Items to Carry On Instead of Checking
When you’re flying there is always the possibility of luggage getting misplaced. Any items that help reduce TMJ symptoms should be packed in your carry-on rather than your checked bags. Items include pain medication (keep prescription medication in their bottles), dental appliances, Traumeel ointment, and Bed Buddy cold/hot packs. Even if suitcase space is tight it’s important to put these items in a carry-on, because the last thing you want to deal with on vacation is TMJ pain.
Before taking your winter vacation it could be a good idea to visit your dentist to evaluate your condition and get advice for traveling more comfortably. MedCenter TMJ can help patients in the Houston area find solutions for their disorders through thoughtful analysis. Call today or schedule an appointment online!