A diagnosis of TMD doesn’t have to lead to frustration and despair. This week, we’ve got you covered. Go from GRRRR to AHHHH with our helpful tips to reduce jaw clenching and grinding.
· Give up the Heavy Metal Music. Whatever your age, you may still like to rock out, and a diagnosis of TMD doesn’t mean you have to retire your classic rock collection and tune into the classic music station. But if you’re really feeling stressed out, take a break from the head bangers ball and switch to something calm and relaxing. Ask your local record store clerk for a suggestion, or check online and download something calming that will settle your nerves. Even listening to relaxing music for just one hour a day can make a profound difference. Give it a try!
· Give up the Gum. Gum chewing does not cause TMD but it does overwork the jaw and will put you on the fast track to TMJ pain and discomfort. But don’t despair, alternatives are available. If you chew sugar-free gum, you may already be aware of its countless advantages. It helps stimulate saliva production in the mouth, washing away unwanted germs and bacteria. But gum chewing is not the only option. Check out the numerous sugar-free mint products available at your local grocery store. Gently sucking on mints can also reduce cavity formation and leave your breath fresh and pleasant. You don’t need to bite down and chew the mint, either. Allow the mint to dissolve in your mouth, or simply toss it out instead of biting down.
· Cut Back on the Starbucks Visits. We know, you love your coffee. But caffeine is a stimulant, and it can have unfortunate effects on clenching your jaw and grinding your teeth. If you can eliminate caffeine altogether, you will probably notice a marked reduction in pain and stress symptoms. But if the addiction is too strong, try cutting back some. Exchange a few of your caffeinated drinks with decaffeinated ones, especially in the afternoon and early evening.
· Put Down the Electronics. Grinding and clenching the jaw often happens at night during sleep, when we are least aware of it. Try a media blackout to help facilitate a calming environment when you sleep. What does this mean? Turn off the television for at least one hour before you retire at night. Instead, read a book or tune into a soothing classic radio station.
· Just Breathe! We take for granted how important breathing is. But it can make a huge difference with stress reduction. Controlled breathing is something you can regulate and when regularly practiced, it can be an essential tool in stress reduction. The best part is that breathing exercises can be practiced anywhere and at any time – and they’re free. No additional expense is required. Check online to find countless breathing techniques and resources.
Image Source: flickr.com/photos/slemmon