Strictly speaking, TMJ is the Temporo Mandibular Joint. It is located where the jaw meets and attaches to the skull, generally just in front of the ears. TMJ is also a term used to describe disorders related to this area.
Pain is the most obvious symptom of TMJ. It can arise when you are chewing, or there can be random or consistent pain and discomfort in the jaw, neck, face, head, shoulders, and even the spine. However, there are also less obvious symptoms, such as :
- Headaches and migraines.
- Stiffness in the jaw.
- Loss of jaw joint mobility or jaw “lock up”.
- Clicking and popping in the jaw.
- Upper and lower teeth that do not fit together properly.
So, can stress cause or aggravate TMJ?
Stress can most certainly cause both TMJ, and bruxism which can lead to TMJ. Bruxism and TMJ can then lead back to stress headaches and stress migraines, as well as any of the other symptoms previously mentioned. It’s s a cycle, as the stress symptoms can cause the worsening of TMJ, and TMJ symptoms can cause further stress.
Stop the cycle
Alleviating stress is crucial as TMJ symptoms can be lessened by ridding yourself of anxiety and stress.
There are many ways to relieve stress. If none of the following help, we recommend seeking anti-anxiety advice from a doctor and TMJ diagnosis and treatment advice from a dentist who uses the principles of neuromuscular dentistry.
- Identify and remove anxiety triggers in your life.
- Play relaxing music or soothing sounds before and/or during sleep.
- Arrange your bedroom so it is stress free, and more conducive to sleep. This includes removing TVs, computers, and other electronic devices that can prevent good rest.
TMJ is a serious disorder that can progressively worsen over time, leading to further joint damage, tooth damage, and even tooth lose. TMJ disorder can bring a wide range of pain, and lead to further stress, which in turn worsens symptoms and pain further. Early diagnosis and treatment through a qualified dental health practitioner is essential to lessening many of these problems, and ending the cycle of TMJ and stress.
If you would like to learn more about TMJ, please download my free e-book.