Living with temporomandibular joint disorder, more commonly known as TMJ, means lots of things. It means monitoring everything from your diet to your pain triggers to keep your jaw working as normally as possible. It means working with professionals for treatment and putting together a self-management plan, because this complex disorder needs to be approached on multiple fronts. And of course, as with anyone, oral hygiene is important — but for someone with TMJ, brushing and flossing might look a little different.
TMJ Can Complicate Oral Hygiene Routines
Brushing your teeth can seem like a simple and easy task until you have to try doing it with TMJ symptoms. And if brushing and flossing causes or worsens jaw pain, you may find yourself getting lax with your routines and skipping these important tasks to avoid discomfort.
In general, people with TMJ report more difficulty with daily oral hygiene than patients without the disorder, with 15% even saying that they cannot floss on a regular basis thanks to their TMJ. Worst of all, over 60% report seeking professional dental care less frequently due to the disorder.
Unfortunately, while skipping the dentist or being inconsistent with your tooth brushing may seem like the least painful option now, if you get cavities or gum disease and need treatment, you’ll end up in the dentist chair, anyway — for longer, more uncomfortable procedures. When placed in that context, routine oral hygiene may actually be more important for people with TMJ than for the average dental patient.
Tips for TMJ Tooth Brushers
If you’re struggling to keep your oral hygiene on track because of your TMJ, you may need to try some different equipment. If an electric toothbrush doesn’t cause discomfort, you may have better luck with one of those than with a traditional toothbrush. They require less aggressive motion during brushing, and often the heads are smaller and easier to maneuver around your teeth. If you have trouble getting your floss where it needs to go, you might consider picking up a flossing tool, or replacing it with interdental brushes or even a water flosser. To further fend off cavities, a fluoride rinse may be a good idea.
Of course, your dentist can advise you more specifically on how to improve your oral hygiene and make those routine tasks easier. But that only works if you visit the dentist! No matter how good your at-home oral healthcare is, it’s imperative that you get regular cleanings and checkups. If you have concerns about TMJ-related discomfort during or after appointments, your dentist can help. They can recommend ways that you can prepare for and follow up after your appointment, and can work with you to determine the best way to conduct your cleaning with minimal discomfort.
Is TMJ handicapping your day-to-day oral hygiene? Don’t let this disorder keep you from clean, healthy teeth and gums. Call (303) 691-0267 or contact us online today to make an appointment with Denver TMJ dentist Dr. Kevin Berry at the TMJ Therapy and Sleep Center.