Stress is an unfortunate reality of modern life for many. It manifests in different ways for different people. One of the common ways stress manifests is through the physical symptoms of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders and teeth clenching.
If this is a symptom you experience, it's crucial to understand how stress can affect the jaw joint and its potential consequences on your dental health. You also need to know that treatment is available.
The Connection Between TMJ Disorders and Stress
While it's not the only cause, stress can play a substantial role in developing or exacerbating TMJ disorders, leading to muscle tension and jaw clenching. These actions can put excessive strain on the temporomandibular joint itself.
People who suffer from this stress symptom often suffer pain, discomfort, jaw fatigue, and decreased jaw movement. Unfortunately, chronic stress can contribute to the persistence of TMJ symptoms, making it necessary to reduce stress as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for TMJ disorders.
Bruxism: A Stress-Related Habit
Teeth grinding and clenching are also referred to as bruxism. It often occurs as a response to stress. When faced with anxiety or tension, some individuals will unconsciously clench their jaw or grind their teeth, especially while they are asleep. These actions can exert immense pressure on the teeth, jaw joint, and surrounding muscles, causing TMJ disorders and other dental health issues.
Physical Manifestations of Stress on the Jaw
Stress frequently causes various physical manifestations throughout the entire body, including the jaw. Increased muscle tension and jaw clenching may cause headaches, earaches, and even facial, neck, and shoulder pain. These symptoms are also common in TMJ disorders, indicating the influence of stress on the jaw joint and its related anatomy.
Tips for Managing TMJ-Related Stress
Managing stress is vital in alleviating TMJ symptoms and preventing additional damage related to teeth or jaw clenching. Stress-reduction techniques, including the following, can help break the cycle of stress-induced TMJ disorders and bruxism:
- Relaxation exercises
- Physical therapy
Some dental patients also benefit from using a custom-fitted night guard or splint that protects the teeth from the dangers of grinding and clenching during sleep. While a NG will protect the wear/chipping of teeth, it may not increase your oxygen space. A sleep TMJ Orthotic centers your jaw and also brings your jaw forward for more oxygen. When you have more room to breathe and oxygen, you can experience deeper sleep, positive effects and reduce your pain. A custom sleep orthotic improves your jaw and airway position, which is different from a flat traditional night guard.
Get Help for Your TMJ Symptoms at TMJ Plus Wellness Center
There's no denying that stress has a profound impact on the jaw joint, often contributing to TMJ disorders and bruxism. Understanding the relationship between stress, TMJ, and clenching is necessary for effective prevention and treatment.
Managing stress levels and seeking professional help are the keys to finding relief from the physical manifestations of stress on the jaw joint and dental health. A comprehensive approach to TMJ symptoms that addresses stress management combined with specific dental interventions can help alleviate symptoms and improve overall dental health.
If you have TMJ disorders or bruxism symptoms, it's essential to consult with a dental professional. At TMJ Plus Wellness Center, we can assess your symptoms, provide a proper diagnosis, and explain the appropriate treatment options we offer.