It can be tempting to think of oral health problems like TMJ as limited to the mouth. But in reality, your mouth is just as much a part of your body as anything else, so it’s intrinsically tied to your overall health. This means that other whole-body health issues can impact your mouth, and issues with your mouth can impact the rest of your body, too.
This is especially true when it comes to stress and TMJ. While TMJ is a health issue that pertains to a very specific part of the body — the temporomandibular joint, responsible for the movement of the jaw — and stress is a psychological problem that creates side effects throughout the body, these two problems are both part of the same vicious cycle.
How Stress Leads to TMJ
During a time of high stress, have you ever realized that you’re clenching your teeth? Or maybe you’ve woken up in the middle of a stressful week and found that your jaw is sore from clenching or grinding your teeth in your sleep. If you have, you’re not alone: Bruxism, which is the clenching or grinding of the teeth, is a condition that affects millions of people.
Bruxism can lead to abnormal wear and chipped or cracked teeth, but it also puts a lot of stress on your jaw joints. The temporomandibular joint is fragile, and excessive pressure on it and tension in the jaw, especially if this tension is recurring or constant, can start to create problems. Once the temporomandibular joint is damaged, it cannot be easily repaired. Instead, you will simply have to start incorporating habits and routines to manage discomfort and prevent the damage from getting worse.
Additionally, when teeth sustain extreme wear, it can change your bite. Malocclusion, more commonly known as a bad bite, is one of the most common sources of TMJ tension and pain. If bruxism has caused a lot of tooth wear, you may need reconstructive dentistry to rebuild your bite.
How TMJ Leads to Stress
Of course, it can also work the other way around: The symptoms of TMJ can easily create stress. That’s because TMJ can create chronic pain and discomfort, which can leave the body in a constant state of tension. This tension can in turn trigger a further problem with bruxism, and can even create debilitating headaches, among other symptoms.
Dealing with the symptoms of TMJ can be extremely stressful — especially when you can’t find a treatment or a solution. If you’re looking for a new angle to try when it comes to treating your TMJ, you may want to consider speaking to an experienced neuromuscular dentist. The right dentist can come at the problem from a new perspective. You can get a custom oral appliance that retrains your bite into a healthier position that creates less tension for your temporomandibular joints.