Is Stress Causing Your TMJ?

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome is categorized as pain in the jaw joint that can be brought on by a host of medical issues. Not only can this lead to jaw pain, but it also spreads to the neck and head and can cause ear pain or even cause the jaw to lock up.

Every person has two temporomandibular joints located on either side of the jaw letting the jaw should move in either a rotating or hinge motion, depending on the purpose of the movement. However, in order for this motion to be fluid and smooth, there is a small amount of cartilage situated between the condyle and temporal bone. This disk of cartilage actually takes on the brunt of the force necessary for these natural movements. When this cartilage breaks down, it makes this movement less smooth, causing patients to experience popping and pain in the jaw. Not only is this painful, but over time, TMJ can even have an impact on your oral health. 

The root cause of TMJ can vary, but some research indicates that stress can often be the culprit. Let’s take a moment to discuss how stress can be the root cause of your TMJ and what you can do about it. 
 

Stress and the Body

When someone is stressed out, their body can respond in a variety of ways. Sometimes, stress can make you feel sick, tired, or uninterested in your regular activities. Of course, there are physical symptoms too. 

Some of the common symptoms of stress include:

  • Grinding of teeth

  • Headaches

  • Muscle Pain

  • Difficulty sleeping

You’ll notice that many of the common symptoms associated with TMJ are similar, including:

  • Headaches

  • Earaches

  • Locking or popping of the jaw

  • Pain chewing

  • Difficulty sleeping

Because the symptoms are so similar, sometimes the conditions are misdiagnosed. Stress may lead to some behaviors (such as teeth grinding) that can later develop into TMJ. This connection is not direct and may sometimes take some additional discussions with your doctor in order to identify the true underlying cause of your TMJ as well as the best course of action moving forward. 
 

Ways to Reduce Stress

While it may be difficult to link stress to TMJ, you can certainly do an evaluation of stress in your life. You may identify that stress is taking up a portion of your life, and you can learn ways to manage it.

Common ways to manage stress include:

  • Exercising

  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet

  • Get plenty of rest

  • Manage your time

  • Limit alcohol intake

  • Seek support from family and friends 

  • Seek additional treatment 

While stress is a part of everybody’s life, you certainly don’t want it to consume you nor have a negative impact on your health. 
 

Overview

Do you currently suffer from TMJ? If so, Ofir Orthodontics is here to help. If you would like to know more about TMJ or the potential options for treatment, please reach out to our office today. We are here to answer your questions and schedule you for a consultation. Call us at (562) 396-9820 to learn more.