Cause or Symptom?

Is stress affecting your jaw? Many people living with the pain of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) do not realize the impact of stress and anxiety on their jaw joints. But, the pain of TMD is directly impacted by stress and anxiety. We hope to bring you some eye-opening insight into how these conditions factor in and a few ways to combat their effects in this blog.

TMD, Stress and Anxiety

The temporomandibular joints are small but very complex joints, located on either side of the jaw. They are what connect the lower jaw to the skull. They are made up of the joint itself, soft tissues and muscles.

The cause of TMD is typically misalignment (malocclusion) of the bite, which can translate to headaches, jaw pain and stiffness, and potential loss of use. This misalignment of the bite can be exacerbated by outside forces, such as tooth clenching and grinding, which are common side effects of stress and anxiety.

But, anxiety and stress can also cause TMD, not just make it worse. This is because of the clenching and grinding that go along with these conditions.

Anxiety and stress are common in many individuals and can be fleeting, but for some, these conditions persist for long periods or become chronic conditions. When they happen regularly, the resulting effects can be severe. The side effects of these conditions include restlessness, nervousness, insomnia and fatigue. In many cases, clenching and grinding of the teeth occur during the daytime, but it also happens frequently at night when you don’t know it.

Signs that you may be clenching or grinding your teeth subconsciously include:

  • Your partner reports you may be grinding or clenching loudly during sleep
  • Flattened, fractured or chipped teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Worn-down tooth enamel
  • Tooth pain or increased sensitivity
  • Sore jaw muscles
  • Muscle tension at the jaw
  • Neck pain
  • Facial pain
  • Ear pain, but no diagnosis of ear problems
  • Headache near the temples

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, it’s time to talk. Schedule a consultation to determine if you’re grinding and clenching or experiencing other symptoms of TMD. Call Legends Dental at 254-799-9540 to schedule an appointment today.