2265 W. Green Oaks Blvd. Arlington, TX 76013

Is Stress Causing Your TMJ Pain?

stress tmj dentist dr alana macalik arlington

Stress is a pain, literally. This feeling can manifest itself in the body in many ways, from stomach upset to weight gain to gray hair. Stress can also be felt in the jaw, causing pain in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). In the time of COVID-19, everyone’s defenses are up. We’re all a little more anxious and stressed, and that can show in uncomfortable ways. Even if your stress isn’t obvious, your side effects will be, but you don’t have to live with TMJ or the oral health complications this problem can cause.

Do You Have These Jaw Pain Symptoms?

You know when things aren’t working properly in your body, but the clearest signs of a problem with the TMJ are:

  • Locking jaw
  • Popping noise when opening the mouth
  • Aching or throbbing in the jaw
  • Jaw tenderness
  • Facial pain
  • Ear pain
  • Pain while chewing
  • Clicking or grinding sound when chewing
  • Tension headaches

Stress and TMJ may be interconnected and they may be separate. Feeling stressed can sometimes cause people to clench their teeth together or grind their teeth unconsciously while sleeping. But there are other jaw problems that could be responsible for the discomfort you’re feeling.

Causes of Jaw Pain

TMJ disorders aren’t the only possible cause of jaw pain. A full exam could result in a diagnosis such as:

  • Teeth grinding: Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, can also be caused by stress, but misalignment may be to blame too.
  • Chewing too much: How do you chew too much? If you’re a gum-chewer, you’re definitely making your jaw work more than the average person. This could result in a tightness in the lower jaw.
  • Arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis can be an incredibly painful inflammatory disorder of the autoimmune system. It can affect joints throughout the body, including the jaw.

These jaw problems may exhibit similar symptoms to a TMJ disorder, like soreness in the jaws, face, and neck, which is why seeing a dentist who is an expert in TMJ is so important. You want to make sure you have the proper diagnosis so you undergo the proper treatment. A nightguard may be recommended to ward off the side effects of teeth grinding and clenching while sleeping. A course of Invisalign treatment may also be recommended to get all teeth into proper alignment.

Getting your jaw pain addressed is critical, not only to minimize your discomfort but to save you from oral health problems like cracked or chipped teeth, damaged dental work, and gum recession.

Getting Rid of Jaw Pain

Eliminating stress isn’t easy. Looking for ways to ease your worrying and anxious feelings is often the place to start when it comes to managing stress. Yoga, deep breathing, and meditation are often the first lines of defense to holistically address the side effects of stress.

Unfortunately, when stress shows up in your jaw, that problem is difficult to discharge without the help of your Arlington dentist. If you’re experiencing jaw pain, with or without stress, make an appointment to see Dr. Alana Macalik to find out what’s going on. Everything from a bad bite to misalignment, genetics to an accident can impact the health of your TMJ. Don’t let the rest of your oral health suffer when a solution is possible. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.