When it comes to dental health, any action that you perform with your mouth that is not related to eating, drinking, or speaking is considered a parafunction. Parafunctions can be bad habits like biting your fingernails , or something involuntary like clenching your jaw at night. Whether your parafunctions are conscious or unconscious, it’s important to try and break these bad habits as they can cause damage to your teeth and temporomandibular joint (TMJ pain).
Bad habits you need to break to avoid tmj pain:
Biting your fingernails. You may be completely unaware of this nervous habit, which means you could be biting your nails far more often than you know. To stop biting your nails, try to keep them trimmed, and use a flavored nail polish to help you stop biting. You can also ask you friends, family, and coworkers to draw your attention to it when you’re biting your nails so you can become more aware of it.
Chewing on a pen or pencil. If you’re a student , it’s easy to mindlessly chew on your pen while you’re taking notes. Break this bad habit by wrapping tape around the top of your pen to make you aware of when you are doing it.
Sleeping on your stomach. Sleeping on your stomach is one of the worst things you can do for your TMJs. The pressure on the jaw encourages it to move in unnatural ways and create TMJ pain and dysfunction over time. Train yourself to sleep on your back by supporting your neck and knees with a rolled-up towel or small pillow.
Eating hard or chewy foods. If you’re stressed or anxious, you may unconsciously gravitate toward hard foods that give you satisfying crunch you crave when you bite into the. Try to avoid hard foods like apples and raw carrots , or anything excessively chewy like taffy or caramels.
Using your teeth as a tool. Your teeth are made for chewing, not opening packages, plastic bottles, or glass bottles. This type of movement can be very jarring to your jaw and seriously damage your teeth. Carry a pocket knife or a small pair of sewing scissors with you so you can open packages without damaging your teeth and jaw.
Other parafunctions that can cause TMJ pain:
Some parafunctions are not necessarily bad habits, but they may cause TMJ pain all the same. These parafunctions may be involuntary or part of your hobby or profession. These parafunctions can include singing, playing a wind instrument, and clenching the jaw while modeling
You may also involuntarily clench your jaw or grind your teeth in your sleep. This is called bruxism, and it’s one of the main contributors of jaw pain. This is often caused by excess sugar or caffeine in the diet as well as stress and anxiety. Cut back on stimulants and consider working with a psychologist to learn how to manage the stress in your life.
No matter how or why you develop your parafunction, you should conscious of the wear and tear it can create on your jaw, and work with a TMJ specialist to protect your joints and teeth. To discuss your TMJ pain and treatment options, call Advanced Dental Implant and TMJ Center at (662) 655-4868. You can also contact them through their website