As the days grow longer and the temperature rises, summertime brings with it a sense of excitement and the promise of outdoor activities. Still, for those suffering from temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, the season’s heat can actually exacerbate jaw pain and discomfort. If you find yourself facing this challenge, read on! We explore several effective strategies for managing TMJ symptoms during the summer months, allowing you to fully enjoy all the season has to offer.
1. Stay Hydrated: One of the simplest yet essential steps in managing TMJ during summertime is to stay well-hydrated. Dehydration can lead to muscle tension and increased jaw pain. Remember to drink plenty of water throughout your day, especially when spending time outdoors under the hot sun. Tip: Stay away from excessive caffeine and alcoholic beverages, which are dehydrating.
2. Apply Cold Packs: Heat and humidity can intensify inflammation and swelling in your jaw joint. To minimize any discomfort, apply cold packs or ice packs to your jaw for 10-15 minutes at a time. This simple step helps lower inflammation while numbing the pain. Just make sure you wrap the cold pack in a cloth to protect your skin from direct contact.
3. Limit Chewy or Hard Foods: Summertime often means BBQs, picnics and outdoor dining. While it’s tempting to indulge in burgers, steaks, and chewy snacks, these can aggravate your TMJ symptoms. Opt for softer food options that are both easier to chew and require less jaw movement. Incorporate fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins into your diet to promote overall health and minimize jaw strain when chewing.
4. Practice Relaxation Techniques: Stress and anxiety can contribute to jaw clenching and grinding, which worsen TMJ symptoms. You can take advantage of the warmer weather to engage in relaxation techniques like deep breathing, yoga or meditation. These activities not only help alleviate stress but also promote your overall well-being.
5. Use a Jaw Support: In some cases, wearing a jaw support or splint prescribed by our TMJ specialist can provide significant relief to your jaw. These devices help align your jaw properly while reducing the strain on the TMJs. Our team is happy to evaluate whether jaw support is suitable for your specific condition.
6. Avoid Extreme Temperature Changes: Rapid temperature changes can also trigger your TMJ symptoms. Be mindful of going from extreme heat to air-conditioned environments and vice versa. You can gradually acclimate yourself to different temperatures by stepping into shaded areas before moving into air-conditioned spaces.
7. Practice Good Posture: Maintaining good posture is essential for managing TMJ pain. Be mindful of your head, neck, and shoulder alignment throughout your day, especially when spending extended periods sitting or standing. Also avoid slouching or craning your neck forward, as this strains the jaw joint and exacerbates discomfort.
8. Seek Professional Help: If your TMJ symptoms persist or worsen despite self-care measures, it’s important to seek professional help. During a consultation, our TMJ specialist is happy to provide a thorough evaluation, pinpoint the underlying cause of your pain, and then recommend effective treatment options personalized to your unique needs.
Summertime should be a time of relaxation and enjoyment. By implementing these strategies and taking care of your TMJs, you can make the most of the warm weather without letting jaw pain and discomfort dampen your spirits. As you listen to your body, prioritize self-care, and turn to professional assistance as needed, you can enjoy the sunshine and a pain-free jaw. Call today to schedule your consultation!