Everyone should care about performing great oral hygiene and keeping their teeth in tip top shape — but people with TMJ may find that harder to do than those without it. This extremely common disorder impacts the function of the jaw, and people who suffer from it not only need medical care from an experienced TMJ doctor or dentist, but also have to put in the legwork at home. TMJ self-management includes specific dietary choices as well as exercises and stretches.

But aside from all of this, those with TMJ still have to perform the same basic day-to-day tasks that everyone else does, such as daily oral hygiene routines. Unfortunately, TMJ can make the seemingly simple tasks of brushing and flossing into real challenges.

Is TMJ Impacting Your Oral Health?

Brushing your teeth thoroughly twice a day and flossing daily is imperative to keeping plaque from building on your teeth, retaining healthy gums, and ultimately preventing tooth decay and gum disease. But the symptoms of TMJ can make those tasks extremely difficult, or even impossible.

Jaw pain can not only make brushing uncomfortable, but can stop you from opening your mouth as widely as you may need to in order to get access to all your teeth with both toothbrush and floss. In fact, 15% of people with TMJ report that they can’t even floss regularly due to the disorder.

And even if you can manage to brush and floss despite your TMJ symptoms, if those symptoms make the tasks unpleasant or even painful, you may be inclined to skip your nightly or morning routines to avoid discomfort — leading to more uncomfortable dental procedures in the end.

For this reason, you could even say that oral hygiene is more important for those with TMJ than for the average person. After all, isn’t dealing with TMJ enough without adding on the responsibility of dealing with gum disease, tooth decay, and worse?

Don’t Let TMJ Prevent Oral Hygiene

The first and most important step to retaining good oral hygiene with TMJ is communicating with your dentist. Not only can they offer informed advice on how to adapt your oral hygiene routines to be sensitive to your jaw pain triggers, but getting cleanings and checkups is also extra necessary when you have TMJ. If regular oral health care is difficult for you, it’s even more important that you see your dentist to have thorough professional cleanings, and to keep an eye out for signs of cavities or gum inflammation.

If you’re worried about how your TMJ symptoms could make your dental appointment painful or uncomfortable, your dentist can help. But they can’t help unless you tell them that you need it!

Of course, there are things you can do at home to make your brushing and flossing routines easier, too. A fluoride mouthwash could help provide extra protection against decay. An electric toothbrush may be easier to move around your mouth, and requires less vigorous movement that could potentially trigger jaw pain. It can also clean your teeth without you having to open your mouth as wide. And if flossing is a challenge, flossing tools may be easier to manipulate, or you may speak to your dentist about floss alternatives like a water flosser.

TMJ is hard enough to handle as it is — don’t let it make your oral hygiene harder, too. Call (803) 781-9090 or contact Smile Columbia Dentistry online to schedule an appointment with a TMJ dentist in Columbia, SC and discuss your options.