Woman in pink sweater holding jaw in pain

Temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, pain can be frustrating to live with at any time of the year. And it can be even more frustrating to live with in the cold-weather winter months. That's because muscles have a tendency to constrict in the cold, which can make the TMJ joint work harder to perform routine bodily functions like chewing, yawning and smiling.

Learn more about the signs and symptoms of TMJ

What can you do to keep pain and discomfort at bay this winter? You could become a "snowbird" and spend your winters somewhere warm, but that's obviously not a realistic option for many. Here's a closer look at some other, more realistic, options:

Managing TMJ Pain in the Winter

  • Stay warm outside: Cold has a tendency to constrict muscles in the winter, which can become a big problem if you're outdoors. That said, be sure to dress appropriately if you're going to be outdoors for an elongated period of time. Make sure you wear the appropriate attire, specifically on your face around the joint, such as scarves and clothes with higher collars. A coat with a hood on it can also help protect the face and the TMJ joint from cold weather.

  • Keep it warm indoors: While being outdoors may present the biggest threat to minimizing TMJ pain, the cold weather months can also make for some colder than usual indoor environments. That said, if you feel TMJ pain coming on indoors and believe it's due to the cool environment, warm up by sitting near a fire, upping the heat, or putting a portable space heater in your area. Keeping warm is key to keeping the TMJ working smoothly
  • Stretch your jaw muscles frequently: Muscles won't tense up as easily if they're regularly being worked. Stretching - or even massaging - the jaw muscles will help keep them loose. Consider doing this in the morning especially.

Read our list of more TMJ home remedies here.

  • Eat soft foods: If TMJ pain is coming on as you eat, you might want to switch up your diet to softer foods until the weather breaks. Softer food puts less strain on your teeth and jaw, so eating them can help curb TMJ pain.
  • Amp up home care remedies: TMJ pain is often self-treated with the likes of over-the-counter pain medication and by warming the affected area. If TMJ pain occurs this winter, you might have to simply step up your home care regimen until the temperature breaks. Remember, for a lot of people, TMJ pain is temporary and eventually subsides. Managing it might just need to be more of a focus for you when it gets cold outside.
  • See your dentist: If your TMJ pain is getting to the point where it's impacting your quality of life, we'd strongly recommend seeing your dentist. Beyond the tips and suggestions, we've mentioned above, your dentist can properly assess your condition and advise other ways to help manage TMJ pain - and not just during the cold weather months, either.

For more information on what to eat and how to care for your mouth this holiday season, contact Kanehl Dental today.