Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain may be common, but it’s not exactly pleasant. As many as 10 million people across the country suffer from TMJ disorders that affect how they open and close their jaws, talk, yawn, and eat. While a number of issues can cause TMJ pain, it’s sometimes triggered by what we eat or drink. If you are a habitual coffee drinker, you may find that TMJ and caffeine don’t mix. This is because caffeine can trigger your muscles to tense, and that can result in a full-blown bout of TMJ pain.
Here, we’ll discuss TMJ, caffeine, and how you can reduce your pain with some lifestyle changes and TMJ treatment. If you’re wondering how to stop TMJ, this information may help.
Disorders of the Temporomandibular Joint
When you talk, eat, or just yawn, you shouldn’t typically experience pain in your temporomandibular joint. Sometimes TMJ pain is temporary. It might be caused by an injury to the area or even certain medications. However, if you experience this pain on a regular basis, you may have a TMJ disorder that’s caused by nerve damage, acute injury, or habitual teeth grinding. The pain from this type of disorder can be intense—even debilitating in some cases.
TMJ disorders can also cause symptoms such as a jaw lock, jaw tenderness, facial aches, and pain near the ears. Fortunately, there are treatments for TMJ disorders. You may even be able to reduce your TMJ pain or its frequency by making some lifestyle changes.
TMJ and Caffeine
Caffeine is a notable coffee ingredient—and often preferred for people who rely on its morning jolt to get them moving for the day. That being said, caffeine is in many other foods and beverages, such as chocolate, cocoa, and tea. Although you may rely on caffeinated beverages like coffee and tea, they can cause you to experience excessive TMJ pain.
Caffeine can trigger TMJ pain in a couple of ways. Caffeine, while it can help us feel more wakeful and alert, also increases feelings of stress and tension. This tension affects our muscles and joints, like our TMJ. Caffeine also leaves the body less than optimally hydrated. When our tissues don’t get the hydration they need, it leads to reduced function and increased pain.
If you’ve ever noticed that you visit the restroom more frequently after drinking coffee and tea, it’s because the caffeine actually works as a diuretic and increases urine excretion. Those trips to the bathroom leave you less hydrated. You may notice that your TMJ pain flares up soon after.
Reducing or Eliminating Your Caffeine Intake
If you want to reduce your TMJ pain, try eliminating caffeine from your diet. It might take some getting used to, but you can switch to decaffeinated coffee and tea. Reducing your chocolate intake may not be so easy, but try it for a few weeks and see how your pain reacts.
A very small amount of chocolate here and there may not cause the same types of issues that frequent coffee or tea drinkers experience. Little Rock dentists often counsel their patients to try various lifestyle changes to control their TMJ pain before attempting more invasive procedures. Keep track of your pain episodes so you can discuss them with your dental provider.
Things That Make TMJ Worse
Caffeine isn’t the only culprit when it comes to TMJ pain. Grinding your teeth when you sleep or the habit of clenching your jaw can also lead to your TMJ getting worse. It’s not uncommon for people with TMJ disorders to report that extremely cold weather and stress triggers pain for them. Chewy foods and chewing gum can trigger TMJ pain as well. You might want to give up gum and taffy, as well as any other foods you notice have a detrimental effect on your TMJ.
TMJ Treatment Little Rock
When you visit your Little Rock dentist for TMJ treatment, you’ll likely be encouraged to eliminate some of the obvious triggers for TMJ pain, like caffeine and chewing gum. Sometimes TMJ pain can be caused by stress; stress can cause a person to tense up, clench their jaws, and grind their teeth while sleeping. These are all well-known causes of TMJ pain. Managing your stress and anxiety leads to reduced pain episodes.
On the other hand, many people require different types of orthodontic devices or procedures if their TMJ pain is getting worse. The first step in the treatment process is an updated checkup and evaluation of your individual dental history. Depending on your needs, you may benefit from certain orthodontic devices like guards or splints or some other TMJ device in Little Rock. Your dentist might recommend anti-inflammatory medications or muscle relaxants.
Typically, dentists and orthodontists prefer to rely on more conservative treatments for TMJ since they often result in significant improvement of TMJ symptoms. Still, sometimes surgical or more invasive procedures are required. Your dental provider might recommend TMJ treatments like TMJ arthroscopy, modified condylotomy, or open-joint surgery. These recommendations will be made based on your individual case. Fortunately, more aggressive treatments for TMJ are seldom needed. Sometimes something as simple as a night guard can drastically improve your quality of sleep.
Living With TMJ
Many people who suffer from TMJ pain experience symptom relief by making the lifestyle changes discussed earlier. If these changes don’t lead to improvement, you may need medication to help alleviate any painful episodes. Be sure that you keep up with checkups with your dentist or orthodontist so that your TMJ disorder can be monitored. Conditions like arthritis can cause TMJ pain to worsen over time. Your dentist will be able to recommend the ideal solution based on your TMJ symptoms.
Let Us Help Your TMJ
Unfortunately, TMJ and caffeine are not a love match.
However, you can get professional help managing your TMJ symptoms by visiting Arkansas Family Dental. If you’re not sure why you’re experiencing TMJ pain or have already been diagnosed with a TMJ disorder, visiting our dentists regularly will help you manage your symptoms effectively. While you may find it tough to give up your caffeine habit, making some lifestyle changes leads to less pain and joint tenderness. Contact our office to schedule your checkup today by calling (501) 222-6973.
Visit our website to download our free dental health guide.
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