Temporomandibular joint disorder, also known as TMJ, result from problems concerning the jaw, jaw joint and facial muscles involved in movement of the jaw and chewing. The disorder can manifest in a number of symptoms, including popping or pain in the joint, dizziness, earaches, headaches, locked jaws, and stiffness.
There are a number of causes of temporomandibular joint disorder and stress is one factor that can lead to issues with the TMJ, or can worsen existing problems.
Bruxism, or grinding and clenching the teeth, can lead to TMJ disorder because it wears down the cartilage lining in the joint. It also causes the muscles of the joint to tense up. Many people who grind their teeth at night do not even know they are doing so, and may only find out when they visit a doctor or dentist for jaw pain.
Stress is one of the biggest contributing factors to bruxism, and being stressed out can cause the patient to grind more frequently or with greater pressure. Stress can also lead to greater muscle tension in the head and neck, which may make the headaches associated with TMJ worse.
Another way that stress can worsen TMJ disorder is through nervous habits that affect the joint. Some patients chew their fingernails or other objects like pens when they are stressed. Chewing non-food items causes stress on the joint, making TMJ disorder symptoms worsen.
Your dentist will be able to work with you to find out the causes of your TMJ disorder. If it is stress-related bruxism or other stress-related issues, he may recommend a night guard which will stabilize your bite and keep you from clenching or grinding your teeth. Relaxation exercises might also be a part of the treatment plan.
If you suffer from symptoms associated with TMJ disorder, contact the Arlington TX dental practice of Dr. Daniel Bush to learn how we can help. Call 817-465-0355 to schedule your visit today.