Lifestyle Changes to Manage Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD)En Español (Spanish Version)
Most lifestyle changes that might be helpful for TMD involve ways to break habits that might be contributing to your pain, such as grinding your teeth, clenching your jaw, or habitually chewing gum.
General Guidelines for Managing TMD
- Learn to manage stress
- Wear night guards
- Stop chewing gum
- Avoid opening your mouth very wide
- Eat softer foods
Learn to Manage Stress
Nearly everyone has some habit that they use to release nervous energy when they feel stressed. In some people, tooth grinding or jaw clenching, also known as
, may contribute to pain in the temporomandibular joint. Finding other ways to
may help decrease your pain.
Wear Night Guards
A night guard is a customized plastic device, usually made by a dentist, which fits over your teeth. The device is worn at night to reduce the damage to teeth and jaw joints caused by clenching and grinding.
Stop Chewing Gum
Habitual gum chewers sometimes have jaw pain because of overuse. For some people, chewing gum is a nervous habit. If you are a regular gum chewer, consider breaking the habit to see if this improves your symptoms of TMD.
Avoid Opening Your Mouth Very Wide
Be aware of how wide you open your mouth. This may give your jaw a chance to rest and heal.
Eat Softer Foods
Your doctor might recommend that you eat soft foods to rest your jaw.
Cummings CW. Otolaryngology:
Head & Neck Surgery
. 4th ed. St. Louis, MO: Mosby; 2005.
Griffith’s 5-Minute Clinical Consult
. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2006.
Clinical Management of Temporomandibular Disorders and Occlusion
. 6th ed. St. Louis, MO: Mosby 2007.
Siccoli MM. Facial pain: a clinical differential diagnosis.
TMD/TMJ (temporomandibular disorders). American Dental Association website. Available at:
. Accessed September 17, 2008.
TMJ. American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery
website. Available at:
Accessed September 17, 2008.
TMJ (temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders). National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research website. Available at:
. Updated August 2008. Accessed September 17, 2008.
Last Reviewed October 2012