Miami weather isn’t usually cold, but when temperatures dip down to the 50s, it can make life extra hard for individuals suffering from temporomandibular joint pain. The cold causes the jaw muscles to tense up, which makes existing jaw joint problems worse.
During cold snaps, managing your jaw condition can become quite challenging, making everyday life painful.
Recognizing the Symptoms of TMD
Temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD, is a condition that affects the jaw joint, causing pain in the jaw, face, neck, and shoulders. Common signs of TMD include:
- Jaw tenderness or soreness
- Difficulty chewing
- Pain and discomfort in and around the ears
- A clicking, popping or grating noise when the mouth opens and closes
- Reduced mobility of the jaw
- Jaw tightening
What Causes TMD?
TMD can be caused by a variety of things, such as stress, injury, teeth grinding, arthritis, and improper jaw alignment.
The Effects of Cold Weather Temperatures on TMD
When the temperature drops, your body will naturally tense up in order to defend itself from the cold. This can cause your muscles to become stiff. Cold weather can also bring about inflammation in the joints, including your jaw, leading to more pain and soreness.
In order to reduce the symptoms of TMJ disorder, here are some tips for when cold weather strikes.
Stay toasty. Aim to keep your body temperature up. Turn up your thermostat and use electric blankets or heating pads indoors. Place a space heater near your work desk. When outside, wrap up with a scarf or cap for insulation.
Make sure to stay hydrated. Drinking lots of water will keep your body hydrated and help relieve tension in the jaw muscles.
Include omega 3s into your diet. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, walnuts, flaxseed, and chia seeds, have been known to lessen inflammation and can help ease the pain of TMD.
Make sure to stretch regularly. Opening your mouth wide and holding it there for 10 seconds can relieve the tension that tends to worsen during cold weather.
Get moving. Regular exercise can help improve circulation and reduce pain from TMD. Incorporate gentle stretching or yoga poses that focus on the neck and shoulders into your daily routine.
Hit the spa. Massages can be helpful in relieving tension and pain in the jaw muscles. You can give yourself a massage or seek out a professional massage therapist for assistance.
Don’t chew gum. Since it can put extra strain on the jaw muscles, chewing gum can make your jaw joint pain even more severe. And it can make these muscles become tight and sore, so it’s better just not to do it.
Consume soft foods. Consuming soft items like mashed potatoes or oatmeal can help reduce the pressure on your jaw muscles and alleviate TMD pain. Additionally, sipping hot teas or other hot drinks can be a terrific way to relax the area near your jaw while adding some extra hydration.
Just breathe. Relaxation techniques may be beneficial in reducing TMD pain, as stress can be a triggering factor. Try deep breathing exercises, meditation or massage therapy to relax your body.
Visit your dentist. If the pain from TMD is severe, it’s important to visit your dentist for a proper diagnosis and treatment. The customized plan your dentist provides can help reduce TMD pain and put you back on the path to comfort.
All in all, cold temperatures can make existing jaw pain worse. To reduce the discomfort of TMD during wintertime, it is essential to stay warm, be well-hydrated, exercise regularly, and use relaxation strategies.
Does Weather Impact Other Types of Jaw Pain?
Yes. Changes in weather conditions, including shifts in barometric pressure, can affect the jaw. People who suffer from TMD or other temporomandibular disorders may sometimes notice an increase in their symptoms during summertime due to air-conditioning systems.
Taking proactive steps to control your TMD pain is necessary regardless of the season. Together with the aforementioned tips, it’s also critical to remain mindful of your posture and avoid clenching or grinding your teeth. If the jaw discomfort is severe, you should go to the dentist for an accurate diagnosis and a personalized treatment plan. Your dentist can provide a personal, tailored strategy that will help reduce the TMD distress.