This story begins about 6 months ago when I started experiencing some very acute (and annoying!) jaw issues. My jaw clicked or snapped painfully every time I bit down or chewed on my right side as if my jaw itself had become dislocated. I even started to dread yawning. Finally, after a very uncomfortable session with my dentist (“Open wide!” *click*), I decided it was time to take charge.
Looking for a solution to my clicky jaw, like most people would, I headed over to my closest internet browser and ended up reading more than I cared to about TMJ aka Temporomandibular joint dysfunction. This is the all encompassing and scientific term for very annoying issues that generally affect the jaw muscles. If you’ve ever had pain or discomfort from what feels like a dislocated jaw, you know what I’m talking about.
My dentist was able to actually hear my jaw crack every time she ask me to open wide. Every single time. What really bothered me though was the way she said, “It happens. Not much we can do about that…” I agree that she’s the dentist and not the jaw doctor (although she obviously hangs out in the jaw area quite a bit!) and it’s not her job to offer any advice on that subject. Still, I thought that there had to be something that I could do to help my ongoing TMJ situation.
The solution actually turned out to be very simple, but it took a bit of work to change some habits.
Changing your habits
I started by eating only on my left side, and slowly. This helped keep my jaw in control but it wasn’t resolving the issue since my jaw would still crack if I wasn’t paying attention. Mostly, I was just trying to keep my jaw straight but it wasn’t really working. It was getting very discouraging.
After some more thought, I considered my bed or more specifically, my pillow, as a possible culprit.
What if I tried sleeping on my left side for a few nights?
This was the hardest habit to change, but I figured that a few nights of terrible sleep (yes, changing the position you normally fall asleep in can really take some adjustment) wasn’t the end of the world.
I actually managed to sleep on my left side the first night. Sure, I didn’t fall asleep for over 2 hours but I was determined to give my right side jaw a break from the pillow. The next day I was exhausted from a bad night of sleep but I continued to remain mindful of the position of my jaw and kept it straight most of the day. I continued to only eat on my left side.
That night, falling asleep on my left side was easy since I was already wiped. The next day, I barely noticed any jaw snapping or cracking. In fact, it had mostly vanished and at least was nowhere near what it was before. Did I heal it? Was I cured??? My jaw gives a resounding ‘yes’ and in fact, I’ve had absolutely 0 issues with TMJ for a good 5 months.
Was it all about changing the way I slept for a few days? What are your experiences with TMJ?