Looking After Your Jaw (Part 1)
- Be aware of habits or patterns of jaw (mis)use:
- The only times that your teeth are supposed to make contact are when eating and swallowing. When your jaw is not working during eating, swallowing, yawning or talking, your teeth should be apart and your jaw at rest.
- Note when your teeth make contact
- Note the position(s) your jaw/teeth continually return to
- Note if you are clenching, grinding, gritting or tapping your teeth, or tensing your jaw muscles
- Note when the above most often occur, e.g., driving, studying, reading, in social situations, in conversation, when fatigued, overworked, stressed, emotionally upset, during work, or sports
- Note if you are able to eat equally on both sides of your mouth
2. Avoid tooth contacting habit with jaw positioning:
- The tip of your tongue should be just behind the top front teeth, with teeth slightly apart and mouth closed. Maintain this position whenever your jaw is not being used.
- This is the resting position of your jaw
3. Modify your diet:
- Softer foods place less stress on the jaw muscles and joints than harder foods
- Avoid eating coarse, hard, crunchy foods that require you to bite into them with your front teeth such as apples, or sandwiches. These foods should be cut up into small pieces and eaten on the back teeth
- Do not chew gum or eat soft chewy foods that require excessive jaw movements
4. Avoid opening your jaw wide:
- This places stress on the joints and muscles
- When yawning, remember to place the back of your hand under your lower jaw to support it and prevent too wide of a jaw opening
5. Do NOT test your jaw!!!
When you move your jaw to the point where you produce pain and discomfort (by opening your jaw and swinging it from side to side beyond the comfortable range of motion), you add to the stress on your jaw muscles and joints. This will likely cause continuation of the problems you are trying to eliminate
I hope that helps a bit and I will write up the rest of it next month.
In the meantime, tongue lives upstairs, teeth don't touch, and keep your lips together so you don't swallow any insects ;)