When patients come to Aesthetic Dentistry of Bernardsville with jaw pain, we look for the most simple explanation first. Identifying the cause then addressing it is far easier than jumping right into cortisone shots, orthodontic treatments, or even surgeries. While we are more than happy to treat your jaw pain and misalignment, let’s find out if you’re doing any of the following things that could be causing your symptoms.
Nail biting — When you bite your nails, you often jut your lower jaw forward. The more often you bite, the more often you place your jaw out of proper alignment. Over time, your jaw can become permanently misaligned, causing pain and other unpleasant symptoms. Try to break the nail biting habit by using nasty-tasting deterrents that you simply paint on your nail.
Eating excessively hard or chewy foods — Hard candy, cough drops, caramels, and gummies may be delicious, but unless you’re letting every last drop melt in your mouth, you’re chewing in a way that is bad for your jaw. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, opt for something softer like chocolate. Not only is it better for your teeth, but the antioxidants in chocolate have some health benefits (which is not to say that chocolate is a health food).
Clenching and grinding — Also known as bruxism, clenching and grinding your jaw can not only affect your alignment, but it can literally grind down the surface of your teeth. Fortunately, custom-made oral appliances can help prevent bruxism and place your jaw in the proper position.
Chewing pencils — When you chew on pencils, pens, or other implements, you put pressure on your jaw muscles. Over time, this can have the same effect as nail biting. This habit is hard to break, as it is usually a response to stress. We can’t eliminate stress, but we can change how we respond. If you’re a stress-biter, consider keeping a stress ball or other gadget within reach so you’re less tempted to gnaw on that #2.
Using your teeth as tools — Hermetically-sealed packages are a pain to open even when you have the proper devices on hand, so why on Earth would you try to use your teeth to open them? Whether you’re trying to crack open a gadget you received for your birthday or a simple bag of chips, keep your teeth out of the toolbox and use scissors or a utility blade to do the job for you.
We know that breaking habits is easier said than done. Still, if you know that you are doing something that is potentially harmful to your health, shouldn’t you at least try? If you’re experiencing jaw pain, don’t wait for it to go away. Whether the pain is caused by your habits or not, we can help. If you live in Bernardsville or the surrounding areas, contact our office to schedule an appointment today.