How Stress and TMJ are Related

From a heavy workload to a fight with a close friend, everyone at some point in their life experiences stress. But what happens when a stressful period of life turns into a sore jaw and tense headaches? It may be hard to differentiate the two but let’s first go over TMJ and how you can treat it.

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What is TMJ?

TMJ is a disorder that involves damage to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) of the jaw. The TMJ is where the lower jawbone meets with two other bones known as the temporal bone and the articular bone. These three bones allow for normal jaw movement, including opening and closing it for eating, talking, yawning, etc. When problems exist in these bones or surrounding tissue, they may lead to disorders such as TMJ Disorder.

Symptoms of TMJ 

There are a variety of symptoms associated with TMJ. Some include:

  • Popping or clicking sounds in the jaw
  • Trouble chewing or biting food
  • Pain in the jaw joint
  • Problems with yawning, etc. 

These symptoms are not exclusive to TMJ and may be caused by other disorders, but some features can help to distinguish if it is indeed TMJ rather than another disorder causing them. For example, TMJ typically becomes worse at night while other disorders tend to worsen during the day.

Causes of TMJ

Everyone is different, and one person’s TMJ may be caused by something different than another person’s TMJ. There are, however, some common causes of TMJ disorder. These include

  • Trauma
  • An importer bite
  • Arthritis
  • Stress
  • Genetics

Other causes of TMJ remain unknown. 

Stress-Induced TMJ

Stress, both physical and psychological, may make a person grind or clench their teeth more while sleeping. This leads to an increase in pressure on the TMJ disc and eventually leads to pain, spasms of the jaw muscles, headaches, and other symptoms.

Stress-induced TMJ is not caused by a single traumatic event but rather a series of events that add up over time. It commonly starts with gum chewing or tooth clenching during periods of stress, which then becomes grinding or clenching while awake. The habit only increases the more stressed a person gets leading to more significant amounts of wear on the disc and eventual symptoms. 

Treating Stress-Induced TMJ

Here at Konig Center for Cosmetic & Comprehensive Dentistry, we believe our patients deserve the best treatment available, and that includes carefully designed treatment plans based on scientific research. Depending on the person and their individual needs, treating stress-induced TMJ might involve:

  • Relaxing the jaw muscles
  • Massaging and stretching
  • TMJ Dental Orthodontic Device

Contact Us

Contact us at Konig Center for Cosmetic & Comprehensive Dentistry to start the journey towards dental happiness with a consultation. Relief from teeth and jaw pain is within reach. Dr. Konig and his expert office staff are waiting to make your dental dreams a reality. Fill out our contact form or call us at (713) 668-2289. We offer various dental services and treatments at our office in Houston, TX.

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