Is Cold Weather a Surprising Pain in the Neck… or Jaw?

Those with temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain may find it difficult to adjust to the changing of seasons, especially cold weather. The cool temperatures of winter can cause jaw muscles to tense up, which can intensify existing TMJ pain.

Low temperatures can make managing your jaw condition extremely difficult and make daily life quite uncomfortable.

Identifying Signs of TMJ Disorder

TMJ disorder, or TMD, is a disorder of the jaw joint that may lead to pain in the jaw, face, neck and shoulders. Symptoms of TMD typically include:

  • Jaw discomfort or tenderness
  • Struggling to chew
  • Earache and soreness around the ear
  • A creaking, cracking or grinding sound when the mouth is opened and closed
  • Restricted jaw movement
  • Jaw locking

What Causes TMD?

TMJ discomfort is caused by various factors, including stress, trauma, teeth grinding, arthritis and misalignment of the jaw.

The Relationship Between Cold Weather and TMD

Lower temperatures can cause your jaw muscles to tense up, worsening existing TMJ pain. In cold temperatures, your body will naturally tighten and can create tension in your muscles in an effort to protect itself. Furthermore, the cold weather can increase joint inflammation, leading to additional pain and discomfort.

Here are some tips for effectively managing TMJ disorder during the winter season.

Stay cozy. Do your best to keep your body warm. Raise the temperature on your thermostat and use electrical blankets or heating pads. Place a portable heater close to your work area. When going outside, shield yourself from the cold with a scarf or cap.

Maintain proper hydration. Drinking plenty of water helps keep your body hydrated and can reduce the amount of tension in your jaw muscles.

Incorporate Omega 3s in your diet. Known to lessen inflammation, Omega 3 fatty acids can ease TMJ pain. Salmon, tuna, walnuts, flaxseed and chia seeds are good sources.

Stretch your jaw muscles. Doing regular stretches can be helpful in reducing the built-up tension during cold weather. For example, try opening your mouth wide and keeping it open for 10 seconds.

Work out regularly. Exercise has the potential to help soothe TMJ pain by improving blood flow. Do gentle stretches or yoga poses that target the neck and shoulder muscles.

Get a massage! Massage can help reduce tension and pain in jaw muscles. You can do it yourself or go to a massage therapist for better results.

Don’t chew gum. Gum can make TMJ pain worse. Chewing gum can strain your jaw muscles and cause them to become tight and sore, so it’s best to avoid it.

Consume soft foods. Eating soft items such as mashed potatoes or oatmeal can reduce the strain on your jaw muscles and help alleviate TMJ pain. Modifying your diet plan can decrease the impact on your jaw and give some much-needed relief. Moreover, hot beverages like tea can provide some relief to the region around your jaw while supplying extra hydration.

Manage stress. As TMJ pain is often triggered by stress, it’s imperative to look for ways to de-stress and relax. This can include deep breathing exercises, meditation and massage therapy.

Go to the dentist. If you’re having bad TMJ pain, make sure to see your dentist for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Your dentist can give you a personalized approach that’ll reduce the discomfort and have you feeling better shortly.

All in all, cold temperatures can worsen TMJ pain. To reduce the discomfort caused by TMJ disorder during winter, it’s important to remain warm, drink plenty of fluids, exercise frequently and practice relaxation exercises.

Can Other Types of Weather Cause Jaw Pain?

Yes. Other changes in the environment, like changes in atmospheric pressure, can also affect your jaw. Additionally, some patients with temporomandibular disorders have found that their symptoms worsen in the summertime due to constant exposure to air conditioning, indoor cold weather!

Patients need to be vigilant and take steps to control TMJ-associated soreness in any season. If you experience pain in your TMJs, in addition to the recommendations previously laid out, you should also maintain a proper posture and curb your teeth grinding or clenching. If you are going through severe pain in the jaw area, it is imperative to visit a specialized TMJ dentist (that’s us) to identify what is wrong and have a treatment plan prescribed. We will give you an individualized plan of action to help you reduce the discomfort stemming from your TMJ disorder.