Is Coffee Bad for Your TMJ? (And What to Do About It)
Most people can’t live without coffee. That first sip that makes you so happy, the oh-so-sweet aroma while it’s brewing. It's everyone's morning best friend. There's a famous quote which says: Humanity runs on coffee.
Did you know that approximately 62% of Americans consume coffee daily? Millions of Americans turn to a rich cup of coffee in the morning. However, did you also know that excessive caffeine consumption can contribute to jaw pain?
Caffeine is used as a natural stimulant to boost physical energy and mental alertness. It is present not only in coffee, but also in chocolate, soda, energy drinks and tea. It helps increase alertness and wakefulness. However, too much caffeine can affect your teeth and jaw. Caffeine starts working on your body by causing uncontrolled neuron activation in your brain. Your nervous system can be overstimulated. Later, you might feel tense or jittery by constantly keeping your body on high alert. Your response to these “caffeinated feelings” may include clenching your jaw. This can make matters worse and may contribute to getting a TMJ disorder.
What is TMJ
TMJ is a medical term which stands for temporomandibular joint. Sometimes referred to as “lock jaw”, TMJ is an umbrella term for conditions that may adversely affect the alignment of the jaw. The temporomandibular joint is an integral structure of the jaw which connects that cranial bone in the skull to the lower jaw bone via hard and soft tissues.
TMJ and other parts of the jaw facilitate movements such as chewing, yawning and laughing. The fact that 25% of people with TMJ problems do not experience any pain or discomfort is concerning. If left unaddressed, it would be more difficult to treat joint problems. The symptoms of TMJ can seriously reduce a person’s quality of life including teeth fractures, chronic headaches, dizziness, earaches, neck stiffness and jaw popping. There are many factors that can contribute to TMJ pain and one of them is caffeine.
Coffee and TMJ
Since caffeine is a stimulant, it could make you feel like you want to clench your jaw. Your blood pressure rises as your heart rate increases. The muscles that move uncontrollably may activate more frequently. These factors are making your TMJ pain worse. The tension in your jaw increases when you have more caffeine in your system. Additionally, it can disrupt sleep and heighten anxiety and uneasiness, both of which cause more clenching of the jaw.
Some individuals may quickly experience the impact of TMJ after consuming high-caffeinated drinks. Even people who are not caffeine-sensitive may experience negative effects as the body processes caffeine, which can take six hours or longer. However, because the effects of caffeine occur at night while people are sleeping, many people do not even notice its effects. Perhaps you developed a habit of subconsciously clenching your jaw while you sleep. When your sleep is disrupted, it may feel more stressful and exhausting the next day. Eventually, you are not only increasing the pressure on your joint but increasing your daily stress level too.
What to do about it
At this point, you may now realize the adverse effects of caffeine to your jaw. The following tips should help provide you with relief from jaw discomfort:
- Reduce pain naturally
Doctors frequently advise over-the-counter painkillers, but these medications come with side effects that further deteriorate health. There are several natural remedies which help you find relief, instead of over-the-counter medicines. Most individuals can experience TMJ relief naturally. Drinking plenty of water while avoiding caffeine is one of the most effective natural remedies. Some of the best methods to help ease your jaw pain are jaw-soothing exercises, eating soft foods that reduce inflammation, and using essential oils for pain relief and stress reduction.
- Avoid and manage stress
Stress is one of the main factors which trigger TMJ. People who are frequently stressed out clench their jaws throughout the day without even realizing it. Do yourself a favor and practice relaxation techniques, take a daily walk to clear your mind, take a bubble bath or consult a therapist if you’re feeling stressed. Make every effort you can to relax and relieve stress.
- Get a good night’s sleep
Sleep is essential to minimizing jaw pain, so getting a good sleep is a smart move. Getting adequate sleep is necessary for your body to recuperate from stress. Organize the space where you sleep by reducing the amount of light and noise and lying comfortably on a cozy mattress. Reduce stimulating nighttime activities, like browsing your phone before bedtime. Avoid sleeping on your stomach as it strains your jaw and neck muscles. Your chances of experiencing TMJ pain will decrease significantly if your sleep quality is improved.
- Limit jaw movements
Your jaw may become strained if you have a tendency to yawn often, sing loudly or yell frequently. Try to minimize any extreme jaw movements to allow your jaw to be more relaxed. When you feel like yawning, for example, place your tongue firmly against the roof of your mouth. You can also place your palm under your jaw to limit its movements. If you require dental work that helps keep your jaw comfortable, consider wearing a night guard.
- Wear a night guard
One of the most commonly prescribed treatments in managing TMJ is using the right custom night guard. Studies show that reducing your caffeine intake can help stop your nightly habit of clenching your jaw. Wear a night guard on your top and bottom teeth. It fits in your mouth like a retainer and prevents you from unintentionally clenching your jaw at night. ClearClub offers customized night guards which help stop jaw clenching and teeth grinding.
TMJ disorder and caffeine are a bad combination. If you’re serious about the health consequences of TMJ, you should consider avoiding caffeine. It is in your best interest to safely scale back your daily caffeine intake. Use natural remedies, avoid stress, get quality sleep, limit jaw movements and wear a night guard for your TMJ instead of grabbing a cup of coffee everyday. Self-care is important in managing your TMJ. Changing habits can greatly impact how you manage your pain, especially if you have been reminding yourself to unclench your jaw more than usual.