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Can Smoking Worsen Your TMJ? A Look at the Risks

What is TMJ?

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction, is a term used to describe the pain or inflammation in the joint that connects the jaw to the skull. It can cause pain, swelling, tenderness in the area, difficulty moving the jaw, and difficulty swallowing. The exact cause of this condition is not well understood, but it is believed that TMJ problems are a result of inflammation in the joint, which can be worsened by certain activities or lifestyle choices.

Are There Risks Associated with Smoking?

Smoking is a well-recognized risk factor for many health conditions, and it can also increase the risk of developing TMJ problems. Studies have shown that smokers are more likely to experience pain and dysfunction in this joint than those who do not smoke. It can also make the symptoms of TMJ more severe, and in the case of an injury, it can also take longer for the joint to heal.

How Does Smoking Affect TMJ?

There are several ways in which smoking can increase the risk of developing TMJ problems. For one, smoking causes inflammation in the body and can make any existing pain and inflammation worse. This inflammation can also interfere with the body’s ability to heal any damage to the joint, leading to a longer recovery time. Smoking also weakens the immune system, making it more difficult for the body to fight off infection and heal any injured tissue.

Can Smoking Impact Treatment?

Another risk of smoking when it comes to TMJ is that it can make treatment ineffective. The inflammation and damage to the immune system can make it harder for certain treatments to be effective. In the case of medication, it can take longer for the body to process and absorb the medication, making it less effective than it would be for someone who does not smoke. In the case of physical therapy, smoking can make it more difficult for the body to respond to exercise and other treatments, which can hinder recovery.

What Can Be Done to Reduce the Risks?

While it may be difficult to quit smoking, doing so can significantly reduce the risk of experiencing TMJ problems and make any existing symptoms less severe. Quitting smoking can also make it easier for the body to heal from any injury or infection, as well as make any treatments more effective. If quitting smoking is not an option, there are other steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of developing TMJ or making any existing symptoms more severe. This includes eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and practicing relaxation techniques to reduce stress.

In Conclusion

There is growing evidence to suggest that smoking is a risk factor for developing and making symptoms of TMJ worse. Smoking can cause inflammation in the body and weaken the immune system, which can make it more difficult for the body to heal and respond to treatment. Taking steps to reduce inflammation, such as quitting smoking, can greatly reduce the risk of developing TMJ or making any existing symptoms less severe.