TMJ Disorder: Will it get worse with stress?
Clenching and grinding teeth is a common symptom of stress for many people. It is a symptom that can occur at anytime, but often manifests when people are asleep, and is often exacerbated when a person is under pressure or stress. Clenching and grinding of teeth can be known by the collective term of ‘bruxism’ and if left untreated can lead to teeth becoming damaged or worn, and can cause other health issues, such as Temperomandibular Joint Disorder, or TMJ.
TMJ is an affliction that affects the jaw joint. Our flexible lower jaw is fixed to the upper jaw and skull via the temperomandibular joint on either side of the jaw, often referred to as the mandible. It is these joints that control the jaws’ hinging action.
Clenching and grinding of teeth can place greater pressure on these joints and the muscles which surround them. The muscles can become sore and agitated, and in extreme cases of TMJ, the alignment of the jaw can even be altered.
Clenching and grinding of teeth can be known by the collective term of ‘bruxism’ and if left untreated can lead to teeth becoming damaged or worn, and can cause other health issues, such as Temperomandibular Joint Disorder, or TMJ.
Symptoms of TMJ include pain in the joints or the surrounding area, a limitation of the movement of the jaw, or locking of the jaw, a clicking sound or other noises coming from the jaw when eating or chewing, noises in the ear, or increased sensitivity to sound, experiences of vertigo and increased headaches.
Most sufferers of TMJ can be helped by visiting their dentist for advice. The dentist can examine the patient’s oral cavity, including the jaws, and if TMJ is diagnosed, then remedial action can be taken. In some cases, simple relaxation techniques may be all that is required to begin to ease the symptoms over time, or painkillers to help treat the pain.
Other means, such as dietary changes to remove harder foods from the diet, or ceasing chewing gum might also help. Bite guards that the sufferer wears when sleeping can aid by absorbing the impact caused by the clenching motion and preventing damage may also be recommended.
For more serious cases, the dentist may consider an injection of steroids, if the root cause is inflammation of the joints or even surgical repair of the joint might be required.