How To Prevent Jaw Strains During Dental Treatments If You Have TMD

Dentist Blog

If you have temporomandibular joint disorder, or are at risk for one, you may be wary of dental procedures since keeping your mouth open may cause muscle tightness and discomfort. Thankfully, there are ways to prevent jaw strain and reduce the symptoms of TMD before and after your dental treatments. Read on to learn more about jaw strain and how to make your dental appointments more comfortable.

How Can You Reduce the Risks of Strain Before and During Your Appointment?

You should let your dentist know about your temporomandibular joint disorder, or that your jaw gets fatigued easily, so that they can discuss your options. For instance, if your TMD is caused by bruxism, then it may help to get fitted with a mouthguard so that you can get relief from your symptoms before lengthy dental appointments.

Arguably, the biggest contributing factor of jaw strain is a lengthy appointment. Lengthy appointments can include procedures like third-molar extractions, periodontal cleanings, crown preparations, endodontic treatment, etc. Because your mouth is open for an extended period during these procedures, the muscles and joints can become fatigued which can lead to strain. Your dentist may be able to break up your dental procedure into two appointments to shorten the duration that your mouth has to stay open at one time. They may also recommend that you take an over-the-counter analgesic to prevent any pain or inflammation after your procedure. If splitting an appointment isn't possible, then be sure to ask for breaks during your treatment.

If you are only having work done on one side of your mouth, your dentist can use a bite block to give your mouth a rest. Bite blocks are soft cushions that prevent the upper teeth from contacting the lower teeth during treatment. Bite blocks are beneficial for both dentist and patient: the bite block prevents the mouth from closing so the dentist can work, but the patient can still relax their jaws since their teeth will rest against the block.  

How Can You Reduce Jaw Strain After Your Appointments?

Be sure to use hot and cold compresses after your appointments—once anesthesia has worn off so that you don't hurt your skin. Cold compresses relieve initial swelling after dental work, and once the swelling has decreased, hot compresses can relieve pain and increase circulation so that damaged tissue has nutrients to heal.

With your dentist's go-ahead, you may be able to massage the joint and muscles of your jaw to increase range of motion and improve blood flow. Lastly, stick to softer foods after your procedures so that your jaw doesn't become unnecessarily fatigued. If you don't need to avoid a specific area of your mouth (e.g. dental implant), then it can also help to chew with both sides of your mouth so that one side isn't prematurely fatigued.

Reach out to your general dentistry clinic for more information on how to prevent jaw strain.


25 February 2022

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