Why Holiday Stress may not be to Blame for your Jaw Pain

Royal Oak and Birmingham, MI

Songs, commercials and those darn Hallmark movies promote the holiday season as the most wonderful time of the year, but for many people, it’s also a stressful time. Feeling stressed or anxious can lead to various consequences, including potential jaw pain. In this article, Dr. Nancy Hartrick, a TMJ dentist near Detroit, explains how there might be more to your jaw discomfort than holiday stress.

What can cause stress during the holidays?

  • Feelings of loneliness
  • Remembering a loved one who has passed away
  • Stress about interactions with family members you don’t like
  • Financial worries
  • Concern about not getting everyone the right gift
  • Stress-related to traveling
  • Worry over the coronavirus

When you encounter new or significant stress, one of the biological reactions that occurs is grinding your teeth. This habit, which is clinically known as bruxism, may occur consciously or subconsciously. Many people who experience bruxism only grind their teeth when they are asleep, and therefore never realize they’re engaging in the habit. Nonetheless, the risks of bruxism are real. Over time, bruxism exposes your teeth to extreme excessive wear, potentially devastating your smile. Bruxism can throw off the alignment of your bite or lead to jaw function issues, including temporomandibular joint disorder.

How do bruxism and TMJ disorder relate?

Your temporomandibular joint is located in front of your earlobe on either side of the face. These joints control the opening and closing of your mouth and also control how the jaw moves. The muscles surrounding the temporomandibular joint are always at work, even when your mouth is at rest. As a result, the joint experiences substantial strain and wear and could be prone to developing problems.

When you grind your teeth, the additional pressure is applied to not only your teeth but also your jaws and the jaw joints, such as the temporomandibular joint. Any potential issues with these joints are accelerated. If dysfunction develops with either temporomandibular joint, it leads to a condition called temporomandibular joint disorder—also known as TMJ disorder or TMD.

The symptoms of TMJ disorder can vary widely from case to case, but most people who suffer from this ailment experience pain—often significant and sometimes so severe it impedes their ability to function on a daily basis.  Other warning signs of TMJ disorder include facial swelling, pressure or pain behind the eyes, limited range of motion of the jaw, or hearing a popping sound as the jaws open and close. Individuals with TMJ disorder also may experience frequent headaches, especially first thing in the morning.

How to Find Relief

If stress is one of the contributing factors to your TMJ disorder, there are practices you can follow to try and limit your stress. We understand that 2020 has been an incredibly stressful year for everyone. Still, try to take time to reflect on the positives and victories you experienced this year and celebrate them. To address symptoms of your TMJ disorder, including pain, seek the care of a neuromuscular dentist in Royal Oak, like Dr. Hartrick. Neuromuscular dentists near Detroit specialize in treating issues related to the alignment of the bite and jaw, making them the ideal medical practitioners to diagnose and treat cases of TMJ disorder.

TMJ Treatment in Royal Oak

Dr. Hartrick is proud to offer neuromuscular dentistry to patients in the areas of Royal Oak and Birmingham, Michigan. There might be much more to your jaw pain than just holiday stress, even in an especially stressful year. If you’re experiencing any combination of the symptoms of TMJ disorder, you need to be seen by a qualified professional like Dr. Hartrick. Otherwise, your condition, and any pain you experience, may get worse. Schedule a consultation today by calling (248) 549-0950 if you live in the areas of Royal Oak and Birmingham, Michigan.

Posted in TMJ

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    Dr. Nancy Hartrick, DDS
    32609 Woodward Ave.
    Royal Oak, MI 48073
    Call: 248-549-0950
    Fax: 248-549-1180