Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) can develop from an acute cause, like a blow to the jaw or whiplash related to a car accident. But it can also develop for subtle reasons, which may be things you do every day.

Here are some of the things you might be doing to increase your jaw pain, headaches, and other TMJ symptoms.


Smoking might seem relaxing, and it might even seem to reduce your pain, but a recent study showed that people who smoked occasionally had a 68% higher risk for chronic pain conditions, including TMJ. People who smoked daily doubled their risk of chronic pain.

Quitting smoking could reduce your joint pain.

Eating Out

If you eat out regularly, you may be contributing to your TMJ risk. One contributing factor in TMJ is inflammation, swelling of the joint tissues, which can lead to pain, dysfunction, and joint damage. Unfortunately, there are many things you find in take-out and restaurant foods that contribute to inflammation, such as salt and oils.

Another additive that can directly contribute to your TMJ is monosodium glutamate (MSG), a flavor enhancer often added to take-out and preprocessed foods.

If you eat out frequently, try cutting down on the number of meals you eat at restaurants, and especially avoid fried, salty, and MSG-containing foods.


Who doesn’t love good barbecue, especially in the summer? Unfortunately, grilling may be bad for your jaw and other joints. When foods are cooked at high temperatures–that sear that looks and tastes so good–it produces a toxin that can damage your body. It won’t attack your joints, but when your body attempts to break down those toxins, it releases an inflammatory compound that can contribute to arthritis pain, including arthritis in your temporomandibular joint.

Cut down on the amount of barbecue you eat and when you do eat barbecue, stick to foods that are cooked slower at lower temperatures, but not those that are smoked.

What Kinds of Treats

Your treats can contribute to your TMJ risk in a couple of different ways. If you consume a lot of sugar, it can increase your inflammation. Some treats, like corn chips, chewing gum, or popcorn, can be hard to chew, which can put stress on your jaw joint, and contribute to TMJ.

Healthy Foods

But it’s not just treats and barbecue that can be contributing to your TMJ. Some healthy foods, especially raw vegetables, can contribute to TMJ by putting a lot of stress on your jaw joint. Primary candidates are carrots and tough greens like collards and kale.


Exercise can be hard on your jaw joint, too. Remember, your jaw is one of the few bones in your body that isn’t supported from below by other bones. Instead, it hangs from the soft tissue, including cartilage, ligaments, and muscles. When you engage in high-impact exercise, these soft tissue bear the brunt of the jostling in your jaw unlike any other place in your body. This can contribute to your development of TMJ.

Undoing the Hard Time

If your lifestyle has put a lot of stress on your jaw joints, we can help. By analyzing and understanding the causes of your TMJ, we can help put your jaw in a more comfortable, relaxed position so that you will feel better and see a reduction or cessation of TMJ-related headaches and jaw pain.

To learn more about the benefits of TMJ treatment in Savannah, please call (912) 234-8282 for an appointment with a TMJ dentist at Beyond Exceptional Dentistry.