Can stress cause TMJ disorder?

young woman suffering from TMJ disorder

TMJ disorder is a common condition characterized by dysfunction of the jaw joints. It can be caused by a number of different factors, including arthritis, trauma, and bruxism (chronic teeth grinding). 

Many patients want to know if there is a direct link between stress and TMJ disorder. Here, Dr. Timothy Mickiewicz explores this connection and explains how individuals can reduce painful TMJ symptoms.

More about the TMJ

The TMJs, or temporomandibular joints, connect the lower jaw to the skull and facilitate proper chewing function. When working properly, these joints glide smoothly, helping to open and close the mouth. When the TMJ is dysfunctional, however, normal movements become more and more difficult, resulting in pain, inflammation, and tenderness.

Bruxism and TMJ Disorder

Chronic teeth grinding and clenching is one of the leading causes of TMJ disorder. As you might suspect, many individuals are more prone to bruxism when they are stressed or anxious. Patients who suffer from bruxism most often grind or clench their teeth at nighttime, but it can also occur during the day. Over time, this places excessive pressure on the teeth, jaws, and surrounding ligaments and muscles. As a result, stress can not only exacerbate TMJ symptoms, but it can be a direct cause of jaw dysfunction.

How does stress make TMJ disorder worse?

Mental, physical, and emotional stress can take a massive toll on the body. If you’re stressed or anxious, you’re more likely to grind your teeth. As a result, you suffer from stress-induces, restless sleep. You’re also more likely to tense up, causing chronic neck pain and muscle strain as well.

Diagnosing TMJ Disorder

Of course, the only way to find out if you’re suffering from TMJ disorder is to schedule a consultation with your dentist. Dr. Mickiewicz is skilled and experienced in treating jaw dysfunction, and has helped hundreds of individuals alleviate pain and get a better night’s sleep. If you think you may be suffering from TMJ disorder, there are several treatment options that can help reduce your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Treating TMJ Disorder with a Custom Night Guard

The most common TMJ treatment is wearing a custom night guard while you sleep. This not only protects your teeth from damage, but it also places the jaw in a more comfortable and favorable position. Wearing a custom night guard is the most effective way to reduce painful TMJ symptoms and protect your long-term oral health.

Other Remedies for Reducing Stress

There are other methods for reducing TMJ pain. These treatments include:

  • Stress reduction: Though easier said than done in some cases, patients can reduce stress by practicing mindfulness or meditation. Light exercise and relaxation techniques are also helpful.
  • Jaw exercises: Stretching or massaging the TMJ muscles can be beneficial for reducing TMJ-related pain. Dr. Mickiewicz can demonstrate certain techniques during a consultation at our practice.
  • BOTOX®: Commonly used as a cosmetic treatment, BOTOX injections can temporarily weaken overactive muscles, providing much-needed relief.
  • Medications: Though not recommended as a long-term solution, certain medications, such as muscle relaxers and pain relievers, can help reduce discomfort while you seek treatment.

Schedule a consultation today.

Do you have jaw pain, chronic headaches, tinnitus, or other TMJ symptoms? If so, schedule a consultation at our Sacramento, CA, dental practice. Dr. Mickiewicz can help you find a solution that will meet your unique and specific needs. You can contact us online anytime or call our office at (916) 469-9178.

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