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Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD) - Prevention

To prevent temporomandibular disorders (TMDs), try to reduce muscle tension in your jaw. You can reduce muscle tension in these ways:

  • Relax. If you have a lot of stress and anxiety in your life, try relaxation techniques. See the topic Stress Management.
  • Learn to recognize when you are clenching your teeth. Practice keeping your teeth apart, bringing them together only when swallowing or eating. When driving, avoid clenching the wheel with both hands, because often your teeth will be clenched also.
  • Do not overuse and stress your jaw muscles. Avoid constantly chewing gum, biting your nails, resting your chin on your hand, or cradling the telephone receiver between your shoulder and jaw.
  • Change your diet. Eat softer foods, and use both sides of your mouth to chew your food. Avoid hard or chewy foods, such as popcorn, apples, carrots, taffy, hard breads, and bagels.
  • Maintain good posture. Poor posture may disturb the natural alignment of your facial bones and muscles, causing pain.

In the past, various procedures such as dental restoration and orthodontic treatment were used to prevent joint sounds from developing into TMDs. Such measures are not only unneeded but also potentially damaging to a joint that may never become painful on its own.

Recommended Related to Oral Health

Coping With Dental Phobia

Does the thought of succumbing to the dentist's chair send a jolt of anxiety through your body? When it comes to triggering a fear response, few things can set people off like an upcoming trip to the dentist. That fear can set in early.  Threatening comments from a parent, such as "If you don't brush your teeth, you'll have to go to the dentist," can leave a lasting negative impression. More common, a painful experience at the dentist's office during childhood triggers anxiety that carries over...

Read the Coping With Dental Phobia article > >

See Home Treatment for other ways to prevent or reduce muscle tension in your jaw.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 11, 2013
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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    How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

    Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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    Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

    Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

    SOURCES:

    American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

    This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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