Turn your Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) from a hurtful joint to a healthy joint

Remember this simple mantra:TMJ

PoTSB TLC
-Po: Posture
-T: Tongue on the roof of the mouth
-S: Swallow correctly
-B: Breathe well
-TLC: Teeth apart, Lips together, and Calm your muscles and mind

PoTSB TLC further described:

Posture
    -Preferably sleep on your back, definitely not on your stomach.
    -Don’t get stuck sitting for long--move often!  Remember variety is more important than one static, “perfect” ergonomic position.  Sit in a chair, stand, kneel, sit on the floor, take microbreaks, etc.

Tongue on the roof of the mouth
    -Anchor the front third of the tongue on “the spot” on the roof of your mouth.  Find “the spot” by making a clucking sound.

Swallow correctly
    -Tongue should already be at “the spot.”
    -When you place a cup to your mouth, your tongue should not push against the cup.
    -As water enters your mouth, let your tongue drop down to collect the liquid.
    -Swallowing starts when you close your lips and the tip of your tongue goes back. to its resting position, or “the spot,” and helps stabilize the lower jaw.  That is where a wave of the tongue starts on the alveolar ridge, where those bumps/ridges give your tongue some traction to push off and initiate the swallow.
    -Next, your tongue segmentally squeezes and waves the fluid or food along the roof of your mouth from front to back toward the back of the mouth and esophagus, like a peristaltic wave.
    -Your top back teeth should touch lightly on your bottom teeth, helping to stabilize the jaw. 
    -Your tongue then returns to anchor in its postural resting position on the roof of your mouth, allowing your head, neck, and jaw to relax.
    -Your head and neck muscles and lips should not noticeably move or contract when you swallow.

Breathe well
    -Breathe through your nose and diaphragm, keep your lips closed.
    -Calm your breathing to 12 breaths/minute.  Small/short breaths in and relaxed/slow breaths out.

Teeth apart
    -Do not brace, clench, or grind your teeth.
    -Teeth should only momentarily touch when swallowing.

Lips together
    -Stretch your upper lip if needed.  Keep your nasal pathways clear.
    -Helps create gentle suction to keep the tongue to the roof of the mouth which in turn allows you to separate your teeth and keep your jaw muscles relaxed.

Calm your muscles and mind
    -Reduce stress and exercise.
    -Practice proper breathing again.

 

Stop Hurtful Habits:
    -Do not brace, clench or grind your teeth
    -Do not keep objects between your teeth, e.g. smoking, instruments, whistles, snorkels, pencils, toothpicks, your cheek, hair, etc.
    -Avoid excessive biting, chewing, and licking: stop biting nails, cheek, gum, suckers, etc.
    -Avoid external pressure on the jaw:
        -Stop sleeping on your stomach at night.  Sleeping on your back is best.
        -Use a headset or speakerphone and don’t hold the phone between your ear and shoulder.
        -Stop resting your head by putting your head under your chin.
    -Food to avoid:
        -Anything chewy, painful, or tiring
        -Chewing gum and ice
        -Hard and chewy candy
        -Sinewy meat such as steak
        -Crunchy raw vegetables
        -Chewy bagels and hard or chewy bread
        -Crunchy foods such as nuts
        -Caffeine
        -Mixed consistency foods such as ice cream with nuts
    -Avoid full unsupported yawns or other full jaw opening activities.  When yawning, keep your tongue on the roof of your mouth and hand below the jaw to help support it.

Partially adapted from the book: The TMJ Healing Plan by Cynthia Peterson and other sources

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