Covid-19 Pandemic Delivers a Blow to The Jaw
There is an epidemic of teeth grinding and jaw clenching, and it’s no secret that the stress of the Covid-19 pandemic is a contributing cause. Long term grinding can wear down teeth leading to expensive dental bills. Habitual teeth grinding and clenching can cause aching joints and feel like a blow to the jaw, resulting in difficulty chewing. These teeth grinding and jaw habits can create severe temporomandibular joint problems like TMJ jaw pain, TMJ headaches, ear pain, neck pain and jaw popping, clicking and crackling.
Up until recently, the main solution was night guards, which protect teeth but may encourage teeth grinding and clenching for many people. Intervention and prevention of these habits are essential to protect the teeth, TMJ (joint) and surrounding muscles in the jaw.
Here are ways to reduce tension in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and muscles of the jaw during the Covid-19 pandemic:
- Set-up an ergonomic home office. Adjust the height of your chair so that your feet rest flat on the floor or on a footrest and your thighs are parallel to the floor. Consider using a cushion for lower back support. If you are using a laptop, try a laptop riser. Posture is important, so keep your head and neck straight and your wrists neutral. Poor head and neck positions can cause TMJ headaches and jaw pain.
- Don’t sit for more than 20 minutes at a time. It’s important to stretch, walk around and also stand. According to Cornell University professor Alan Hedge too much standing isn’t good either since some people tend to lean. Slouching, leaning and hunching shoulders forward can stress the spine.
- At the end of the day put your legs up a wall. This is a restorative yoga pose that relaxes the mind and the body and may help relieve stress and tension in the neck, back and legs.
- Practice dropping your jaw. Gentle jaw stretching and relaxing exercises may help increase jaw movement. There are also jaw strengthening exercises that can be done when not in a state of acute TMJ pain.
- Choose soft foods and avoid chewy foods like gum, taffy and dried mango. Soft foods like green smoothies, oatmeal, scrambled eggs, mashed sweet potatoes and vegetable soups are just a few examples of healthy choices. Checkout healthy soft foods recipes on the TJz blog. Speak to a registered dietitian if you need meal planning or follow other dietary restrictions.
- Plan a relaxing bedtime routine. Turn off social media and put away the phone. Instead, read, meditate, breathe or listen to calming music. Consider soaking in a bath, putting on comfy pajamas and sipping an herbal tea before turning out the lights.
TJz Balm™ offers organic and 100 percent botanical night-time topical pain relief and also moisturizes and soothes the jaw. The massaging applicator is hands-free. There is a pleasant, lavender aroma that may help sleep. This natural OTC drug should be used according to package directions. Always seek advice from your healthcare provider before starting any new treatment.