Pain in your jaw joint, neck, or shoulders could be an early warning sign that you are suffering from a condition known as TMJ. TMJ occurs when the temporomandibular joint that connects your upper and lower jaws isn't working properly.
There are many risk factors for and root causes of TMJ. Here are three surprising activities with a connection to TMJ that you should try to avoid if you don't want to deal with a TMJ diagnosis in the future.
1. Excessive Chewing Gum Use
Chewing gum can be used to help freshen your breath. Some people rely on gum to help them overcome smoking or manage stress. Moderate gum use shouldn't have a negative effect on your oral health, as long as the gum you chew is a sugarless variety. Chewing gum starts to pose a problem when you use it excessively throughout the day.
The chewing of gum stimulates the muscles near your jaw joint. As these muscles tighten with repeated use, the symptoms of TMJ can be exacerbated. Some cases of TMJ can even be caused by chewing gum when joint damage occurs as a result of excessive muscle tightness. Limit your reliance on chewing gum to avoid hearing that you have TMJ.
2. Poor Posture
You might not think there is much of a relationship between the way you carry yourself and your oral health, but poor posture can be a risk factor for developing TMJ.
Slouching or stooping can result in alignment problems of the neck and shoulders. Your temporomandibular joints are delicately balanced, and any alignment changes in your upper body could pull these delicate joints out of place.
You will experience popping, locking, and cramping of the temporomandibular joint, and you may even notice that the joint starts to spasm when misalignment occurs. Correct your posture to prevent TMJ from affecting your day-to-day activities.
3. Extreme Stress
Periodic stress is inevitable for most adults. When these bouts of high stress become chronic, serious health problems could ensue.
A lot of people clench their jaw when they are experiencing stress. This tension can tighten the muscles near the temporomandibular joint, contributing to the development of TMJ. Find ways to reduce your stress levels so that you can avoid having TMJ symptoms take a toll on your life in the future.
TMJ is something that should not be taken lightly. Work with your dentist to identify and address potential risk factors that might make you susceptible to developing TMJ in the future and how to received TMJ treatment if that happens.