Do you have pain in your jaw? Ringing in your ears? Neck aches? Jaw clicking or popping? All of these seemingly unrelated issues may actually all be the result of one problem: TMD or TMJ Disorder.

Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is one of the most complex joints in your body (yes, evencompared to your knees) and when it gets unhappy, it makes a lot of other areas of your body unhappy!

Dentists believe that the following bad habits contribute to TMJ disorder.

1. Using your teeth as tools

Are you using your teeth as scissors? Or pliers? Cut it out! Studies have shown that people who use their teeth as tools are more likely to develop TMJ disorder. They are working their jaws on tasks that teeth and jaws have no business doing. Teeth are built to withstand vertical forces, not lateral forces. Not only will you end up damaging your teeth, affecting your appearance, but it may be at the heart of the pain you’re suffering from TMD.

2. Stop grinding

One of the most common ways that people develop TMD is through teeth grinding (also called bruxism). Grinding your teeth from stress or at night while you sleep is a leading cause of jaw discomfort.

3. Quit biting your nails

Studies show that nail biters often suffer from TMJ disorder. How is it linked? By using your teeth as nail clippers, you are using your jaw muscles in ways they weren’t meant to work causing disc displacement.

4. Eat Good. Feel Good.


Give your teeth a break by avoiding foods that can cause jaw discomfort. Known as “high impact foods,” the following foods are crunchy or make your jaw twist in unnatural ways. Avoid them and improve your jaw’s health:

  • Any food that is so large that you have to open your mouth very wide
  • Sticky or chewy items, like caramel apple or candy bars
  • Hard or crunchy foods such as apples, pretzels or raw carrots
  • Crunchy cereals
  • Tough steak

5. Stop smoking

Studies have shown that there is a significant correlation between the pain in female TMJ sufferers and use of tobacco cigarettes. Of patients with TMD, one study actually found, “Smokers reported significantly higher pain severity, impairment, anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbances than nonsmokers.”

If you are experiencing any head or neck pain, or you wake up in the morning already tired, you may have a TMJ Disorder. We have helped many patients improve their quality of life through some minor adjustments to their bite or by using mouth guards.

About HollowBrook Family Dentistry:

HollowBrook Family Dentistry is a professional, friendly, full-service office that has been serving kids, adults, seniors and families in Colorado Springs for over fifteen years. The “Family” in our name is more than a word. It’s a core value for us. We want to be a part of your family and help you experience the best dental health for the rest of your life! Call us today at 719-633-0049. We’d love to hear from you.