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Lifestyle Changes to Manage Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD)

You may need to break habits that might be adding to your pain, such as grinding your teeth, clenching your jaw, or chewing gum.

Steps to Ease TMD

  Learn to Cope with Stress

Most people have habits that they use when they feel under stress. In some people, tooth grinding or jaw clenching, also known as bruxism, may add to TMD pain. Find other ways to manage stress to help ease pain. Biofeedback, relaxation methods, and therapy may help.

  Wear Night Guards

A night guard is made out of plastic and fits over your teeth. It is often custom made by a dentist. It is worn at night to keep grinding and clenching from harming your teeth.

  Stop Chewing Gum

Gum chewers can have jaw pain because of overuse. People who chew gum should think about breaking the habit to see whether TMD gets better.

  Do Not Open Your Mouth Very Wide

Watch how wide you open your mouth. This may give your jaw a chance to rest and heal.

  Eat Softer Foods

Eating softer foods may help to rest your jaw.


Temporomandibular disorders. American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons website. Available at: Accessed July 29, 2019.

Temporomandibular disorders. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated February 20, 2018. Accessed July 29, 2019.

Temporo-mandibular joint (TMJ) pain. ENThealth—American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at: Updated January 2019. Accessed July 29, 2019.

TMJ. Mouth Healthy—American Dental Association website. Available at: Accessed July 29, 2019.

TMJ (temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders). National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research website. Available at: Accessed July 29, 2019.

Last reviewed June 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Daniel A. Ostrovsky, MD  Last Updated: 10/18/2019