What Causes TMJ Flare Ups?

If you've ever felt a dull, aching pain in your jaw area that tends to come and go, you're not alone. An estimated 10 million Americans suffer from TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder, with many experiencing periodic flare-ups that can interrupt daily life. These flare-ups occur when the TMJ and surrounding muscles spasm or tighten up, leading to inflammation and discomfort that can range from barely noticeable to quite severe. 

So what's behind these miserable TMJ flare-ups? In this blog, we'll delve into the causes and how you can manage them for a more comfortable life.

Understanding TMJ Disorder

TMJ, or temporomandibular joint disorder, is a condition affecting the joint that connects your jawbone to your skull. When this joint is affected, it can lead to pain, difficulty chewing, and even headaches. Flare-ups can occur periodically, causing intense discomfort. But what triggers these flare-ups? Several factors can contribute, and understanding them is the first step towards effective management.

Stress and TMJ Flare Ups

One of the primary causes of TMJ flare-ups is stress. When we're stressed, our bodies tense up. This tension can extend to the jaw, leading to clenching or grinding of the teeth, known as bruxism. Over time, this can put strain on the TMJ, causing flare-ups. If you notice your symptoms worsen during stressful periods, stress management techniques such as yoga, meditation, or even counseling could be beneficial.

Diet and TMJ Flare Ups

Another factor that can contribute to TMJ flare-ups is your diet. Certain foods, particularly those that are hard or chewy, can put extra strain on the jaw joint. This can lead to increased inflammation and discomfort. If you notice a correlation between eating certain foods and your flare-ups, it might be worth considering a diet change. Opt for softer foods that require less jaw work and see if your symptoms improve.

Physical Injury and TMJ Flare Ups

Physical injury to the jaw, neck, or head can also lead to TMJ flare-ups. Whether it's from a sports injury, a car accident, or even a dental procedure, any trauma to these areas can affect the TMJ. If you've experienced an injury and are now dealing with TMJ symptoms, it's important to seek professional help. Treatment options such as physical therapy, pain management, and in some cases, surgery, can help alleviate your discomfort.

Don't Suffer in Silence

If you're experiencing TMJ flare-ups, remember, you're not alone. At North Billerica Smiles, our team of experienced doctors is here to help. We understand the discomfort and frustration that can come with TMJ disorder, and we're committed to helping you find relief. Don't let jaw pain control your life. Call us today at (978) 262-0023 to request an appointment. Let's work together to manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life.