For patients suffering from Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ), Halloween can be a tricky time. They often feel like they can’t partake in all the fun and delicious goodies that this hair-raising holiday has to offer due to chronic pain that’s associated with the disorder. TMJ “affects the joint that connects the skull to the lower jaw” and can cause patients to experience symptoms such as headaches/migraines, tooth sensitivity, snoring, sleep apnea, clicking or popping in the jaw and, perhaps one of the most common symptoms, pain in the jaw, face, neck or head. So it’s easy to see how many popular Halloween candies and funky costumes could trigger TMJ symptoms. Dr. Caracioni treats many patients living with TMJ, so she understands how the disorder can impact a patient’s everyday life, causing them to miss out on some of the most fun parts of life. If you’re living with TMJ, here are some tricks to help you enjoy a few treats this Halloween season.
Choose your sweet treats wisely
Avoid candies that are chewy, crunchy or hard. These treats can be problematic for TMJ patients because they cause the jaw to work harder and require lots of chewing. Instead, go easy on your jaw and indulge in sweet treats like chocolates (Hershey’s Kisses or bars, Dove Chocolates or Reese Peanut Butter Cups) or soft brownies without nuts. The key takeaway is to find candies that put the least amount of stress on your jaw to avoid a painful flare-up.
Dress to impress, but pick the right costume
Dressing up for Halloween is one of the most fun parts of this spooky holiday. Whether you’re planning on attending a Halloween party or taking your kiddos trick-or-treating, you can still get in on the fun. Picking the right costume is key to avoiding aggravating your TMJ. Forgo false teeth, like fake vampire fangs, because they put stress on the jaw muscle. And while a scary mask might be your go-to costume of choice, it’s best to steer clear of these as well. Masks restrict jaw movement, causing your jaw joints to work harder. And lastly, avoid anything that may strain your head or neck.
Don’t overexert your jaw
While the urge to raid your kiddo’s candy stash and kick back to watch a scary movie marathon is tempting, don’t go overboard. You can definitely indulge in some yummy treats, but make sure to give your jaw a break! One of the main ways to relieve TMJ pain is to rest your jaw so that constant munching can be detrimental. Enjoy a few candies, and save the rest to snack on during the week.
TMJ can easily get in the way of everyday life if you don’t have the right tricks to help you stay pain-free, and one of the best ways to alleviate TMJ pain is to seek treatment before it gets out of hand. Dr. Caracioni can help. Call our office today at 785-783-0741 to schedule an appointment to treat your TMJ.