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Can temporomandibular disorder (TMD) be prevented?

The muscles affected by TMD are the muscles used to chew, swallow, and communicate. Most health professionals agree that the majority of temporomandibular disorders are caused by strain on this group of muscles. To prevent TMD, 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.

Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) may be prevented if you follow some simple steps as soon as you notice jaw popping or pain:
  • Apply ice packs to the joint to reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Start a soft food diet to ease the stress on the temporomandibular joint in the jaw.
  • Stop chewing gum or hard candy as this may further hurt the jaw joint.
  • Take over-the-counter (OTC) anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling and pain.
  • See your dentist to discuss further treatment options if your TMD symptoms do not resolve.

Because the causes of temporomandibular disorders (TMD) can vary so much, it is hard to prevent TMD. Causes include:

  • arthritis
  • dislocation
  • injury
  • tooth and jaw alignment
  • stress and teeth grinding

Scheduling regular checkups with your dentist can help to diagnose TMD early. Once it is diagnosed, your dentist can suggest the appropriate treatment based on the suspected cause.

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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.