How do I know if my symptoms are caused by stress or TMJ?

TMJ RichmondDo you experience orofacial pain? Perhaps you suffer with frequent headaches and your face (particularly near where the jaw connects to the skull) feels tender and strained. Stress and TMJ disorder can produce similar symptoms such as orofacial pain but stress itself can contribute to TMJ disorder if a person responds to stress and anxiety by clenching or grinding his or her teeth. If you are unsure of whether stress or your TMJs are to blame for your symptoms, we recommend scheduling a checkup with our dentist. If treatment is required, your dentist might perform dental restorations to rebuild your bite, recommend stress reduction therapy, or refer patients to an oral surgeon for corrective, surgical treatment.

What is the TMJ exactly?

The TMJ or temporomandibular joint is located just beneath the ears. This joint connects the lower mandible to the cranium. Every time we open or close our mouths, the TMJ is employed. The TMJ moves the mouth in a variety of positions from open to close and side to side. If the TMJ is strained by grinding or clenching one’s teeth or because a patient has a malocclusion, a person can experience symptoms like orofacial pain, reduced oral function, and tooth wear. People with TMJ disorder also experience facial and jaw pain due to the TMJ’s supportive tissues like muscles and ligaments being overworked.

What does grinding and clenching my teeth have to do with TMJ disorder?

Grinding or clenching one’s teeth – also known as bruxism – is very destructive. Not only does this habit weaken and wear down teeth, it puts unnecessary and excessive stress on the TMJ and its supportive tissues. Over time, this stress combined with worn dentition will cause reduced oral function and discomfort.

How is TMJ disorder treated?

Initially, TMJ disorder might be treated by addressing issues with worn dentition and tooth placement. Sometimes, the symptoms of TMJ disorder can be improved with restorations used to rebuild a bite and orthodontic treatment. If a person’s TMJ disorder is caused by a damaged TMJ or misaligned jawbones, an oral surgeon might need to perform corrective jaw surgery.

We provide surgical treatment for TMJ disorder. Call us to reserve an appointment.

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