Our body and mind are interlinked in complex ways that we continue to discover. One of these complex interactions is the one between stress, bruxism, and TMJ.

Bruxism is teeth clenching, which can happen during the day or it can happen at night during sleep. It can be a cause of TMJ or a symptom of the condition. Research shows that psychological factors might be the primary cause of bruxism, which would create a vicious cycle, since bruxism can lead to TMJ, and the chronic pain of TMJ can be associated with depression and anxiety, as well as TMJ symptoms like tinnitus that can affect emotional processing.

The Link between Sleep Bruxism and Stress

We have long suspected that sleep bruxism is tied to daytime stress. In recent years, this has been confirmed in multiple studies. A 2010 study which looked at 69 individuals, including 21 people with sleep bruxism, showed significant correlation between work stress, physical health problems, and other daily stressors and sleep bruxism. In addition, a tendency to use unhealthy coping mechanisms tended to increase the risk of bruxism. A 2012 study suggests that for many bruxism patients, there’s no occlusal problem underlying their bruxism, suggesting that the primary mechanism may be psychological.

Psychological Prevention, Physical Treatment

Bruxism puts stress on all elements of your jaw system, including the teeth, bones, and joints. As a result of bruxism, a person might suffer significant damage to the teeth, including chipped, cracked, or worn teeth. In addition, it can lead to displacement or dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint, commonly known as TMJ, which then can have far-reaching effects.

If you are suffering from bruxism, it’s important to talk to your doctor or other health professional about stress that might be underlying the condition. But it’s also important to see a dentist about stopping the effects of bruxism, including tooth damage and TMJ.

If you would like help with bruxism, please call (803) 781-9090 for an appointment with a Columbia, SC TMJ dentist at Smile Columbia Dentistry.