TMJ Disorder: Will it get worse with stress? Posted on May 6, 2013 by trinhdm in Dental Office TMJ Disorder is a term that covers many conditions that involve the temporomandibular joints (the joints located just above the jaw in front of the ears). From inflammation to trauma, whenever there is consistent discomfort, the inability to move the jaw freely or any impediment that impacts the jaw, a visit to your dental office can narrow down the cause and focus on treatment. Some of the predominant complaints with jaw discomfort include: Headache – These types of headaches are often those located in the area of the temples. These can be attributed to stress or can actually get their start with clenching the jaw muscles. Earache – While many of the aches in the ear are due to an infection near the ear drum, patients that clench and grind their teeth can often feel that stress as discomfort in the ears. Neck – Stress and anxiety are well known for their ability to cause aches and pains, and quite often the muscles in the neck are a focal point where stress will manifest itself. Facial issues – When the jaw aches or teeth hurt, you can feel like these discomforts are radiating themselves throughout the face, especially when the jaw is involved. Toothache – Jaw clenching and teeth grinding can result in worn enamel and broken teeth. TMJ and stress are certainly not synonymous, but patients that deal with stress often have dental issues. Stress can result from day to day concerns like a long commute to work, daycare concerns, or a co-worker that drives you crazy. But stress does not have to be daily to create symptoms … a missed deadline, family illness or a big event like a wedding can create havoc for the nervous system. TMJ can get a foothold when the patient starts to grind their teeth or clench their jaw subconsciously while asleep as an outlet for stress. TMJ and stress are certainly not synonymous, but patients that deal with stress often have dental issues. Patients with TMJ that lead stressful lives are certainly going to be prone to the same grinding and clenching concerns, making consistent visits to the dentist important to maintain good overall dental health. Therapy may be helpful to deal with stress, but a professionally fitted mouth guard can provide relief for TMJ sufferers to help limit the damage done to teeth due to subconscious grinding and clenching. Visit our team at Anderson Dentistry for a mouth guard designed specifically for your needs.