Disney World is the most popular tourist attraction in the world, with over 52 million visitors annually. That’s about 25 times the population of Orlando, so it’s a huge number of people coming through the park every day.
Most of these people have a great time at the park without problems, but sometimes things go wrong, and you end up with an injury. Unfortunately, there are many rides that include jerking motions, which may lead to TMJ problems in people who are susceptible.
Here are some of the rides that may be most likely to trigger TMJ whiplash.
Magic Kingdom Rides with Whipping Motions
Tomorrowland Speedway: This is a version of Disneyland’s Autotopia, which is notoriously the most lawsuit-triggering attraction in the park. That’s because the mini cars have the potential for real accidents. You’re not supposed to be bumping, but it happens, and that can cause a serious jolt. You can also get a jolt from swerving to the side and hitting the guide rail the cars use.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: This high-speed roller coaster has swift turns, dramatic drops, and lots and lots of bumps. Fun times, unless your temporomandibular joint comes out of place.
Space Mountain: The ride here is smooth, but it’s also fast, and the turns are sharp. You might really feel the stress on those poor cartilage discs in your jaw joints.
Mad Tea Party: The advantage on this whirling ride is that you can control how fast you go, unless you’ve got a crazy mad niece whose only knows one speed: “Faster!”
Epcot Rides: GM and G-Forces
Test Track: Holy brake check, Darkwing! Some of the early test parts can definitely jostle the temporomandibular joint. Add to that a few bumps and some high G-forces as you round the high-speed portion of the track, and you can end up with some jaw pain at the end.
Mission Space: Mission Space comes in two versions. In one version, you will be spun in a centrifuge to simulate high G-forces and speed during the mission. The other version uses a motion simulator (similar to what’s used in Star Tours). The high G-forces of the one version can potentially cause TMJ problems.
Hollywood Studios: Toys, Terror, & Rock & Roll
Rock’N’Rollercoaster: Anything that’s a real roller coaster has the potential to put stress on your temporomandibular joint, and this one is a real roller coaster. Fast acceleration, loops, twists, drops, and inversions can definitely put stress on the temporomandibular joint.
Tower of Terror: You might be terrified of how your jaw is going to feel after this one, especially if you’re afraid of heights and drops and will be clenching your teeth the entire time. In addition, sudden stops and bumps can definitely stress your temporomandibular joint.
Toy Story Mania: This is one of the most popular rides these days, but it can put a lot of stress on your jaw joint because of the spinning motions and quick turns.
Dinosaur: The jerky motion of hydraulics and the sudden twists and turns the ride takes can definitely cause some stress on your temporomandibular joint.
Kali River Rapids: This rafting ride will not only get you very wet, it can also lead to some big bumps as you go down the rapids. It can be gentle, but sometimes you may end up getting a more serious jolt.
Primeval Whirl: An old style jolty, bumpy coaster with lots of sharp turns and sudden stops. Your jaw will want to keep going when the rest of your body turns or stops, putting a lot of stress on the joints.
How to Deal with TMJ at the Park or After
If you are on a ride and experience jaw pain or headaches related to either a jolt or clenching your jaw, it’s important to avoid further injury. We know that you want to enjoy your day, but spend the rest of the day avoiding all of the above rides. If there are any rides you have doubts about, ask people as they’re coming off to see if you really want to risk it. Use ice to combat swelling, or heat to address sore or tense muscles. Sometimes, you might not experience true pain until after you’ve slept. If you wake up with an especially sore jaw, it’s best to take it easy the next day.
If pain worsens, doesn’t respond to over-the-counter medication, or is so severe that you can’t sleep, it’s important to get TMJ treatment right away. To schedule an appointment with an Orlando area TMJ dentist, please call (407) 834-6446 for an appointment with Dr. Michael L. Weinstock in Altamonte Springs.