Practicing Good Oral Hygiene When You Have TMJ
Most people think of October as being the spookiest time of year because of Halloween. Ghosts and goblins are pretty frightening, but do you know what’s even spookier?! Bad oral health and hygiene! That’s why October has been designated as National Dental Hygiene Month!
National Dental Hygiene Month is a special month-long event promoted by the American Dental Hygienists Association. The goal is to raise awareness of the importance of good oral health and celebrate the remarkable work carried out by dental hygienists.
Sure, there’s a lot of candy-eating that takes place in October. But National Dental Hygiene Month isn’t just for kids. It’s for everyone. Good oral care and hygiene is important for people of all ages, from children to senior citizens. This, of course, includes people who suffer from TMJ Disorder.
The benefits of healthy teeth and jaw joints go beyond just a beautiful smile. Taking good care of your TMJ health is essential to your overall health and quality of life.
That’s why in honor of National Dental Hygiene Month, I’d like to talk a little bit about good oral hygiene habits for TMJ patients.
The Importance of Good Oral Hygiene
Whether you suffer from TMJ or not, it’s important to exercise good oral hygiene habits and take care of your teeth and gums. Thanks to advancements in science and the medical industry, we now know that oral health is systemic and has a major impact on the rest of our health and body. Practicing good oral hygiene is important because it protects your overall health and can help prevent:
• Bad breath
• Gum disease
• Tooth loss
• Heart disease
• Respiratory disease
• Other systemic and bodily diseases
Practicing Good Oral Hygiene When You Have TMJ
TMJ can affect many aspects of your life, from your general comfort and the way you feel during the day to things as specific as what you eat and the way you sleep at night. Additionally, it can also impact the way you approach oral hygiene and at-home dental care.
People with TMJ may find it difficult to conduct simple tasks such as brushing or flossing their teeth. This is because when you have TMJ, opening your mouth for any extended period of time can be difficult and painful. Because of this, some people may avoid certain tasks altogether.
Data shows that 15% of people with TMJ claim that they cannot floss on a regular basis. Additionally, over 60% report avoiding professional dental care less due to the disorder.
It’s true that TMJ can complicate things, but it’s important not to cut corners or skip out on important routine care. Brushing or flossing your teeth may cause some minor discomfort. But think about the alternative! Imagine having to sit in the dentist’s office for hours because you have a cavity from not brushing. It goes without saying that one option is much worse than the other!
Besides, there are lots of strategies you can use to ease your pain and discomfort. You may have to make some small adjustments to your lifestyle and routines, but trust me, it’s worth it! Doing so will save you a lot of headache and a lot of cost!
Dental Hygiene Tips for TMJ Patients
Believe it or not, practicing good oral health and hygiene is still possible when you have TMJ. You may find that your routines suddenly look a little different than they used to. But putting in a little extra effort can go a long way. Making simple changes can help protect your comfort, health, and wellbeing.
Here are some tips TMJ sufferers can use to make teeth brushing and dental hygiene a little bit easier:
Brush Your Teeth with an Electric Toothbrush
People with TMJ often have a difficult time with brushing because it requires them to keep their mouth open for an extended period of time. Additionally, TMJ sufferers may not have the same range of motion, making it difficult to fit an ordinary toothbrush in their mouth. However, many of my patients are able to find success with using an electric toothbrush. Electric toothbrushes have smaller heads and are often easier to maneuver.
Use a Flossing Aide
Flossing can also be difficult to do when you have TMJ. Often, patients cannot open their mouth wide enough to be able to floss with their fingers. The good news is, there are now many flossing aides available over-the-counter today. Often, these tools are equipped with plastic handles, which can make it easier to floss when you can’t open your mouth all the way.
Take Breaks and Keep Your Jaw Relaxed
Try to keep your jaw as relaxed as possible when brushing and flossing your teeth. This will help minimize the discomfort. You can also take breaks if your jaw gets tired. Let your jaw rest for a while, then return to the task. Small changes like these will make it easier to stick to your routine.
Control Cavities with a Fluoride Rinse
In addition to taking the steps mentioned above, you can also use a fluoride rinse to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Fluoride is a mineral known for its unique ability to strengthen tooth enamel and prevent cavities. You can use the rinse one time each day after brushing your teeth to prevent decay.
Eat TMJ-Friendly Foods
Eating a healthy diet when you have TMJ is important in order to minimize pain and discomfort caused by inflammation. Healthy foods like leafy greens, berries, and other fruits and vegetables have anti-inflammatory properties.
The trick is, when you have TMJ, you also want to avoid eating anything that’s hard, crunchy, or difficult to chew. Therefore, you probably want to avoid consuming certain fruits and vegetables in their raw form. You can, however, eat these foods cooked.
Try grilling, sauteing, or baking your favorite fruits and veggies to make them easier to chew. You can even throw them in a blender and make a delicious smoothie!
Protect Your Dental Health & Wellness
Good oral hygiene is key to protecting your dental health and wellness. Call us today at (952) 942-9600 to speak to a member of our team for an appointment. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms that you believe may be related to TMJ Disorder, please reach out for help as soon as possible. I would be happy to provide a complimentary consultation to meet with you and discuss your concerns in detail. I believe that by working together, we can find a solution to the issues you are experiencing and help you get back on track with your health and enjoying life again!
Dr. Mike Gallagher, DDS
More About Gallagher Dentistry & Facial Pain Center
Dr. Michael Gallagher and our Eden Prairie Dentistry team are committed to providing exceptional care and empowering our patients with information about their dental health. Please take advantage of Dr. Michael Gallagher’s offer for a complimentary consultation regarding how we can help you. If you have any questions about our services or would like to schedule an appointment, we invite you to give us a call at (952) 942-9600 for a complimentary consultation. The outstanding experience of our dental team, Dr. Gallagher, and the skills of our staff have helped us in successfully treating our patient’s oral problems. We’re always welcoming new patients throughout Eden Prairie, Chanhassen, Bloomington, Minnetonka, Edina, Minneapolis, Saint Paul, Burnsville, Plymouth, Eagan, Richfield and surrounding areas. For more information, please contact us!