Stress is not good for any part of your body; it causes a variety of ailments and your oral health is no exception. TMJ or Temporomandibular Joint Disorder is a serious and painful issue that results in your mouth when you suffer from excessive stress. Typically, stress causes you to grind your teeth, whether while you are awake or sleeping, causing the jaw to tighten and for you to feel excessive pain as a result. TMJ can be very debilitating to everyday life and should be addressed as soon as the symptoms are noticed.
The Symptoms of TMJ
There are many symptoms that you may experience if you have TMJ. Some patients experience all of them, while others just experience one or two. Any symptoms warrant a full check-up to see the cause and the subsequent treatment to alleviate the pain:
Sudden and chronic pain in the face, jaw, or neck
Difficulty opening your mouth wide to chew or yawn
Jaws that feel "stuck"
Popping noise when you open or close your jaw
Difficulty chewing foods that you could previously chew
Never feeling fully rested after sleeping 8 hours
Each of these symptoms can wreak havoc on your daily life, making it difficult to be productive. If your TMJ is caused due to stress, there are ways that you can try to alleviate it on your own without treatment. If these methods do not work, a nighttime mouth guard may be necessary to eliminate the grinding that you do at night in order to prevent the damage occurring to your teeth and your overall health.
Relaxation Techniques There are a variety of relaxation techniques that can be performed at home or with a professional to help alleviate your stress. Some of the most common methods include yoga, Pilates, and meditation. The simple act of taking time for yourself, becoming one with your body, and becoming more aware of your feelings is the common denominator in each of these exercises. If you do not care for these exercises or feel that your stress is beyond home remedies, seeking professional counseling could also be helpful. A counselor can help you channel your stress in healthier ways so that you can alleviate the pain from your jaw.
Another common remedy that many patients utilize successfully is professional massage. The act of relaxing all of the muscles in your body, allows your body to remove the toxins and stress from it. You are then able to get a better night's sleep and not have the stress building up in your jaw as you clench and grind your teeth hour after hour during the night.
If you are unable to get your TMJ under control on your own, a visit to the office might be warranted. Many patients have success by wearing a non-invasive mouth guard at night. This mouth guard, which looks similar to an orthodontic retainer, is simply placed over the teeth before going to sleep. It helps to keep the jaws separated so that they cannot meet and grind at night. This helps to save your teeth as well as alleviate the stress on the rest of your body. Most patients have no problem sleeping with this appliance in their mouth as it is comfortable and not very noticeable.
If you think you have TMJ or know that you grind your teeth, come in for an appointment so that we can discuss the causes and possible treatments. Sometimes just a few home remedies are all that is necessary while other times a dental appliance is required to put an end to the pain.