Can temporomandibular joint and muscle disorder (TMJ) be prevented?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

The muscles affected by TMJ are the muscles used to chew, swallow, and communicate. For some people, the cause of TMJ is strain on this group of muscles. To prevent TMJ, take steps not to strain this muscle group. If you are inclined to tense your jaw when stressed, use relaxation techniques to cope and modify your behavior so that you don't clench your jaw or grind your teeth. Eating softer foods, not chewing gum, and being mindful not to open your jaw too widely all should help in keeping these muscles and joints healthy.

Taking steps to lower your stress level may help you avoid the discomfort of temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ. No one is sure what causes this condition, which produces pain in the jaw and facial muscles, and headaches, among other symptoms. However, doctors believe that living with chronic emotional stress makes a person more likely to develop TMJ. If you feel tense and anxious much of the time, try to find a way to relax. Some good relaxation techniques include meditation, yoga, deep breathing, and exercise.
Other than trauma, there is usually no one thing that causes TMJ. All that can be done is to reduce the risk factors which include clenching the teeth and avoiding activities which may cause one to be hit in the mouth.

Learning how to deal with stress, keeping your teeth healthy, getting exercise, and eating a balanced diet can also be helpful in reducing your risk.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.