When there is a problem with the joint that attaches your lower and upper jaws, this is known as a temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. TMJ disorders can cause you to experience significant discomfort on a daily basis when they are left untreated. Stress is a common factor when you have this kind of disorder. Find out more about TMJ disorders, including their causes and treatment options.
Common Symptoms of Stress-Related TMJ Disorders
When you have a TMJ disorder, one of the most common symptoms is soreness in your jaw. In fact, you might have trouble opening and closing your mouth all the way, such as when you talk or chew. You might also have soreness near your ear on the affected side, as well as facial pain and a clicking sound when you open your mouth. Keep in mind that this disorder can affect both of your joints or just one side.
How Does Stress Cause TMJ Disorders?
TMJ disorders develop when the cartilage in between the bones inside these joints wears away or sustains damage. Without this cartilage, the bones can grind together, creating soreness and other symptoms. One of the causes of TMJ disorders is long-term teeth grinding, which has a strong association with stress. Although the exact causes of teeth grinding are not fully understood, chronic stress plays an important role. Being under stress on a frequent basis can cause you to grind your teeth together when you sleep. This clenching can damage the cartilage inside your joints, resulting in a TMJ disorder.
When to Seek Care
Having jaw soreness on rare occasions is not a cause for concern, but if you have persistent symptoms, you should seek care for a TMJ disorder. Leaving this condition untreated can affect your quality of life and put you at risk of tooth damage if you grind your teeth.
Treatments for TMJ Disorders
When you have symptoms of TMJ disorders, there are different types of treatment available. Managing stress that is causing you to grind your teeth is one way to reduce these symptoms. However, you might need additional help finding relief from your symptoms. Some of the options that are available include wearing a mouth guard at night or having procedures done, such as TMJ arthroscopy. Mouth guards, which are worn while you sleep, can stop you from clenching your teeth during the night. This can help prevent your joint from becoming even more damaged while also allowing it to properly heal, which should ease symptoms. Our prosthodontist can evaluate your joint or joints and come up with a treatment plan based on the cause of your disorder and whether or not it is related to stress and teeth grinding.
If you have pain from a TMJ disorder and have been unable to find relief, please contact us at Trailhead Dental to schedule an appointment. Our prosthodontist, Dr. Bryan Limmer, can provide you with professional treatment to ease the symptoms of this disorder.