TMJ Pain and Your Mask

October 12, 2020
Avatar for Kelley MingusKelley Mingus

Wearing a mask has become a way of life for most of us, and it seems like it won’t be going away anytime soon. Unfortunately, while masks help keep us and those around us safe from illness, they can sometimes come with their own set of problems. Many people report breaking out from wearing their mask, a problem many have dubbed ‘maskne’ or acne from masks. But though it’s annoying and embarrassing, breakouts from wearing a mask or face covering are on the minor end of the pain spectrum when it comes to mask side-effects. If you have temporomandibular joint dysfunction, wearing a mask can be a real pain in the neck, head and jaw.

That’s because when we wear a mask, we may be holding our head and jaw at an unnatural position to compensate for the mask. Here are some ways mask wearing may be hurting your temporomandibular joint, and how you can correct it and stay more comfortable in your mask.

Watch What You Eat

If you have temporomandibular joint dysfunction, you may already know that certain foods make your condition a lot worse. Foods that are chewy or crunchy, especially. Unfortunately, when we wear a mask we become very aware of our breath. This may prompt us to want to chew gum or pop a mint, which we may end up crunching. Unfortunately, while this may help our breath, it can make TMJ symptoms worse, and it can make our mask shift, causing us to maneuver our jaw to compensate. Best bet? Brush your teeth well before wearing your mask, so you’ll eliminate mask breath and the need for gum and mints.

Limit Your Time

Wearing a mask may be a necessity in some places, which means you don’t have much of a choice if you want to patronize them. That being said, if your mask is bothering your jaw, try to keep trips to stores or other establishments that require masks to a minimum.

Check Your Fit

When it comes to wearing a mask, one size definitely does not fit all. If you are wearing a mask that’s too small, you may struggle to keep your chin and nose covered without even realizing it. Often, you may do this by moving your jaw. If you mask is too big, you may also irritate your jaw by trying to maneuver it if it rides up on your face during wear. If you can’t find a mask that fits your face properly, consider sizing down to a child’s mask, or having a custom mask made by a local or online artisan.

If you try all of these ideas and your TMJ symptoms are still bothering you, speak to Dr. Mingus. He can customize a TMJ dysfunction solution and get you the pain relief you want. To be evaluated for TMJ dysfunction, please contact Dr. Mingus’ office by calling 541-382-6565.