The question under consideration here is, does old weather make TMJ worse, and we can answer in the affirmative. Yes, cold weather tends to make TMJ worse.

Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorder –TMJ for short – is a fairly common affliction, affecting possibly up to 12 percent of the U.S. population.

It is more common among young people and tends to affect women more than men.

The simple explanation for this increased discomfort is that when the temperature drops, our bodies try to gain heat by shivering. That, in turn, can cause muscles to become tense, including those in the area of the temporomandibular joint.

The result of this increased tenseness can be greater TMJ pain.

A woman wearing a blue sweater grasps her jaw in pain.

Ways to combat the cold

Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to ease TMJ pain during cold weather.

Remain Active

Regular exercise helps keep our joints and muscles strong, including the jaw muscles. If the prospect of exercising outdoors during winter doesn’t appeal to you, there are plenty of ways to stay active indoors. Yoga, Pilates, treadmill, exercise bike, kettlebells, and resistance bands are a few options that come to mind that will help keep you lithe and supple, no matter the outdoor temperature.

Dress warmly

Wearing appropriate winter clothing outdoors can help prevent muscles from tightening up. If you’re going to spend time outdoors, wear a jacket, gloves, and hat. You might even want to wear a hooded jacket to protect your jaws from the ice and snow that often come with our Chicagoland winters.

Crank up the temp

If you’re bothered by the cold, you might turn up the temperature on your thermostat a couple of degrees or perhaps get a small electric space heater to add some warmth to the place in the room where you’re working or relaxing.

Eat well and hydrate

Eating a healthy diet heavy with omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation, and a steaming cup of tea can provide some much-needed warmth. At the same time, you might want to reduce your consumption of more highly caffeinated beverages as they can lead to teeth grinding and increased TMJ discomfort.

Treatment for TMJ in Chicago, IL

If TMJ is a persistent, ongoing problem for you, we urge you to schedule an appointment for an evaluation by our dentists at Chicago Beautiful Smiles. We can determine if the source of your discomfort is TMJ or some other issue. Once your situation is properly diagnosed, we can prescribe several treatment choices to relieve your discomfort.

To learn more about TMJ and treatment options, contact Chicago Beautiful Smiles to schedule your evaluation.