Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) plays a major role in many of your everyday functions. This joint is one of the most complex and yet active joints in the body. Every day, your TMJ is responsible for thousands of movements, helping you with chewing, speaking, and even breathing! Since this joint is so essential and yet so complex, it comes as no surprise that it’s susceptible to problems. Your TMJ is affected by many things, one of them being stress. Here’s how stress could be causing your TMJ problems!
Stress Can Lead to Bruxism
The TMJ and stress are closely related through the trigeminal nerve, which is affected by muscle tension. When you experience stress, your muscles tense in what’s known as our fight or flight response. When there’s no resolution to this physical response, you may grind your teeth.
Bruxism, the technical term for teeth grinding, is a common side affect of stress. People who grind their teeth often create symptoms of TMJ disorders, such as a sore jaw, tight muscles, and facial pain. This tension can often lead to headaches. Symptoms from stress and TMJ disorders overlap each other. Bruxism may also be a symptom of a problem with your TMJ, as the top and bottom parts of your jaw may not fit together correctly.
Tense Muscles Cause Headaches
Headaches are a common symptom of TMJ disorders. However, if you’re experiencing tight neck or face muscles from stress, this could be linked to your jaw pain. If you’re also experiencing joint popping or clicking, a TMJ disorder may be present. A sore jaw or painful chewing could mean your joint is inflamed and not working as it should. This can also lead to headaches, much like stress does. TMJ disorders can cause stress as well as be caused by stress.
Clenching your jaw or experiencing stress could actually cause a problem with your TMJ. Stress can aggravate TMJ symptoms, whether it’s the stress of a physical illness or the mental and emotional stress of a hard day at work. Even if you don’t have a TMJ problem, stress could lead to the onset of issues due to tension and inflammation.
How to Stop the Effects of TMJ and Stress
Stress can create a vicious cycle with your TMJ. If you have a preexisting problem with your jaw joint, stress can make it worse. Even if your jaw is healthy, it can actually cause a TMJ disorder. The key here is to properly manage stress to reduce the chances of problems with your TMJ.
Talk to your doctor about what types of relaxation techniques you can do. Exercise, meditation, and even simple activities such as talking to a friend or reading a book can help you reduce stress. If you’re grinding your teeth or have symptoms of a problem with your TMJ, talk to your dentist about how you can protect your teeth and relax the muscles.
Stress hugely impacts your health, especially your TMJ! Stress can also influence your risk of other health problems such as heart disease and high blood pressure. By properly managing your stress, you can help combat any TMJ problems you’re having. Talk to your dentist for more information!