Stress. It’s something we’ve all dealt with, or will eventually deal with, whether we want to or not. The trick to stress, however, is managing it. While we can’t always control when it occurs, we can try to do our best to handle our stress with grace. Whether it’s deep breathing exercises, diffusing essential oils that promote relaxation, getting some exercise, or tackling the problem head on, there are many ways we can attempt to reduce our stress levels to make life seem a little more manageable.
But sometimes, that’s easier said than done, and our stress manifests itself not just as a mental disruption, but as physical problems as well.
Take for example temporomandibular joint dysfunction, or TMD. Temporomandibular joint dysfunction is a condition where the temporomandibular joint of the jaw becomes misaligned with the jaw socket and pops in and out as you open and close your jaw. This can occur during chewing, talking, and even breathing! It can range anywhere from unnoticeable to excruciatingly painful, to the point where you cannot open your jaw due to stiffness and pain.
While there are many causes of temporomandibular joint dysfunction, one major known cause is stress! That’s right- mental stress can cause your jaw to misalign! But how? Well, it happens because when we are stressed we may exhibit stress response behaviors such as teeth grinding or jaw clenching, both of which can cause the misalignment of the jaw.
In the case of teeth grinding, this can be dangerous in itself because it can cause your teeth to chip, crack, or wear unevenly. This issue isn’t just cosmetic, as it can cause tooth infection, lost teeth, and even increase your risk of gum disease!
When you clench your jaw you are putting undue stress on the jaw, which can cause stiffness and soreness, and can cause the jaw to become misaligned. So without even realizing it, you could be causing pain and damage to your temporomandibular joint! As if stress weren’t bad enough!
The good news is you don’t have to suffer from stress-related temporomandibular joint dysfunction. If you are experiencing any signs and symptoms of TMD, including jaw stiffness, popping and clicking of the jaw when you open and close your mouth, jaw pain, headaches, neck aches, shoulder or back aches, migraines, or tinnitus, please reach out to Dr. Ablear for a consultation today. Dr. Abelar can help design a treatment plan that will correct your TMD, and help alleviate the pain that comes along with this often-debilitating condition.
To schedule a consultation with Dr. Abelar, please contact the office today!