If you have been living with TMJ (temporomandibular joint) pain, then it’s important to learn to avoid habits that can make it worse.

We all have a few bad habits. Some of these bad habits, like procrastinating until the very last minute or overcommitting your time, can add stress to your life. However, there are some other habits that can make pain related to TMJ disorder more severe. No one wants to have to live with TMJ pain, and these are a few of the habits that can make it worse:

#1. You bite your nails.

When you bite your nails, you are forcing your jaw to move in a way that it was not designed to. Biting your nails is an unnatural movement for your jaw that can aggravate your TMJ disorder. Here are a few tips to help you stop biting your nails:

  • Keep your nails trimmed short.
  • Get your nails professionally manicured.
  • Use nail polish that is designed to deter biting.
  • Ask your friends and family to call you out and keep you accountable when you bite your nails.

#2. You use your teeth as tools.

No, your teeth are not scissors, nor are they a knife. When you don’t have scissors or a knife handy, it’s all too tempting to use your teeth to rip open packages, but your teeth are not tools. Like nail biting, when you use your teeth as tools, it forces your jaw into unnatural movements that can aggravate TMJ pain. It’s also important to note that you can do some serious damage to your teeth if you use them as tools. Here are a few tips to help you break the habit:

  • Always carry a multitool or utility knife with you.
  • Ask for assistance instead of using your teeth!

#3. You grind your teeth or clench your jaw.

Nothing can make your TMJ pain more apparent than grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw. The difficult part about these habits is that they often happen when you’re fast asleep, so you may be grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw at night without even realizing it. A few signs that you grind your teeth include loose, chipped, fractured or flattened teeth, an increase tooth sensitivity and damage to the inside of your cheek. If you think that you might clench your jaw or grind your teeth:

  • Ask your dentist about a mouthguard to protect your jaw and teeth.
  • Find effective ways to manage your stress — stress and anxiety are closely related to jaw clenching and teeth grinding.

Let us help you find an effective treatment for your TMJ.

Although avoiding the above habits will help to eliminate excess TMJ pain, it does nothing to actually treat the problem. If you’ve been living with TMJ pain, it’s time to find the relief you’ve been looking for. Here at James Otten Dentistry, we have helped patients all over Lawrence find relief with our TMJ treatments. Find out if our treatment option is the ideal TMJ remedy for you! Schedule your appointment today.