TMJ Treatment

7 Things That Make TMJ Worse | PWS

February 23, 2024

uffering from temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) can significantly impact daily life. Symptoms such as stiffness, pain, and difficulty in jaw movement can make simple tasks like talking and eating excruciatingly painful.

If you're dealing with TMJ disorder, the last thing you want is to do things that make TMJ worse. But let us first understand TMJ.

What is TMJ?

The temporomandibular joint, commonly known as TMJ, is like a hinge that joins your jawbone to your skull. You have one on each side of your jaw. When there's a problem with this joint, it's called temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD. This condition can cause pain in the muscles and joints that control jaw movement.

TMD can be caused by different things, such as jaw injuries, arthritis, or even genetics. Some people with TMD also grind or clench their teeth, a condition called bruxism. However, not everyone with bruxism develops TMD, and not everyone with TMD has bruxism.

Most of the time, the discomfort associated with TMD is temporary and can be relieved using non-invasive methods such as medications (such as painkillers, muscle relaxants, and antidepressants), mouthguards, physical therapy, and counseling. If these approaches prove ineffective, surgery may be considered as a last resort.

7 Things That Make TMJ Worse

If you're noticing signs or symptoms of TMD or have already received a diagnosis, you should avoid a few activities. Be mindful of your habits and avoid doing things that make TMJ worse.

Chewy/Tough Foods

Chewy or tough foods can strain the jaw joints as they require extensive chewing, leading to increased pain and discomfort and limiting jaw mobility. However, you don't have to cut these foods out entirely; simply opt for smaller bites and chew slowly to reduce jaw strain.

Slouching/ Bad Posture

Slouching or maintaining poor posture can impact jaw function more than you might think. Your jaw operates optimally when your posture is upright, with your head positioned above the cervical spine. Slouching alters the way your jaw opens and closes.

Physical therapy is one of the conservative treatments for TMJ. During therapy sessions, the therapist may focus on improving your posture. This often involves strengthening your back and shoulder muscles and encouraging you to sit or stand tall and straight.

Clenching Your Teeth

Clenching or grinding your teeth (called bruxism) can occur during the day or while you sleep at night. This habit can worsen jaw muscle stress for individuals with TMD.

Often, stress plays a role in bruxism. Therefore, finding ways to manage stress may help alleviate symptoms. Additionally, your dentist may recommend wearing a mouthguard while sleeping to prevent nighttime clenching and grinding.

Resting on Your Chin

Resting your chin in your hands while sitting up, whether watching TV or browsing social media, may feel comfortable, but it can negatively affect your jaw. This position places pressure on the TMJ, potentially causing the disc to slip out of place. Breaking this habit allows your joint to heal properly in its natural position.

things that make tmj worse

Non- Functional Jaw Activities

Many individuals often engage in non-functional jaw activities, such as chewing on pens or biting fingernails, without realizing it. Children may also suck on their thumbs or fingers. However, these habits can strain the TMJ, exacerbating symptoms and hindering the healing process.

Chewing Only One Side

Many individuals may not realize they have a tendency to chew primarily on one side of their mouth. However, this habit can exert excessive stress on that side of the TMJ and surrounding muscles, leading to discomfort and joint dysfunction.

To address this imbalance, it's important to be mindful of your chewing patterns and aim to evenly distribute chewing between both sides of your mouth while eating. If dental issues or tooth pain on one side hinder your ability to chew evenly, seek guidance from your dentist for appropriate treatment.


Using tobacco, whether through smoking or other forms, is incredibly harmful to your oral and overall health. It's considered one of the worst habits due to its damaging effects on teeth and gums, as well as its association with increased risks of oral cancer and exacerbation of conditions like TMD.

Get Relief from TMJ Disorder with Treatment In Beverly Hills, CA

Symptoms of TMD include:

  • Jaw or jaw joint/muscle pain or tenderness
  • Difficulty chewing
  • TMJ locking or popping
  • Facial and/or ear pain

If you have TMJ disorder, the last thing you want is to do things that make TMJ worse. Be mindful of habits and activities that can exacerbate TMJ symptoms is essential. Avoid doing things that make TMJ worse, and help manage your condition and improve your quality of life.

If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, schedule an evaluation with our team at Perfect White Smile in Beverly Hills, CA. We have the experience and expertise to diagnose and treat TMD effectively. New patients can call us at (424) 284-8215 while existing patients can reach us at (310) 276-4537.


What should you avoid when you have TMJ?

It's best to avoid chewy, tough, crunchy, or oversized foods, as they can exacerbate TMJ pain. Examples include chewy or tough meats, such as steak.

How can I avoid worsening my TMJ symptoms?

Avoiding habits like teeth clenching, chewing gum, and resting your chin on your hand can help prevent exacerbating TMJ symptoms.

Can stress worsen TMJ symptoms?

Stress can contribute to TMJ symptoms by causing teeth clenching or grinding, which puts additional strain on the jaw joints and muscles.

How Can We Help

The smile of your dreams starts with a consultation.

Located in Beverly Hills Perfect White Smile creates the world's most beautiful smiles and relieves patients of TMJ symptoms. Many times, both can be achieved at the same time in the same procedure!

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