Stress and Jaw Pain

Stress in daily life is not only harmful to your overall health and mental stability but can also have side effects negatively impacting your jaw and oral health. Stress is how the body reacts to harmful situations but persistent stress can actually present physical issues. If you are experiencing jaw pain, it is important to consult your dentist immediately to diagnose any underlying issues. If your dentist does not find tooth decay or fractured teeth, and if you do not have a dental abscess. Your job pain may likely be stress related.

In the event that your jaw pain is stress related, your dentist will be able to provide you with a dental appliance to wear during sleep to help relieve dental and jaw pressure associated with bruxism. Bruxism is the clenching and/or grinding that a lot of us unconsciously do every night in our sleep. Bruxism not only causes jaw pain, but it can also cause fractured teeth and exacerbate tooth wear. Undue strain on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and surrounding muscles can cause a patient to frequently wake up with a sore jaw, facial muscle pain, tooth pain, or even a headache.

Managing daily stressors can help relieve symptoms associated with jaw pain and clenching. Some patients may consider consulting their general practitioner to see if an anti-anxiety medication could help with long-term symptoms of stress.

Identifying a stressor that is repeated regularly can help one learn how to deal with it if they cannot avoid it. In order to manage your daily stress, it may be advantageous to keep a daily journal to make note of your day and how you felt throughout. When you are able to identify when you feel stressed or anxious or if a specific event causes you stress or anxiety, identifying the stressor can help you deal with it in a healthy manner.

Avoiding Stressors

It is not easy to avoid things that cause stress and anxiety on a regular basis but if you are at all able, be your own best advocate to look out for yourself and avoid any stressors. Sometimes, it is difficult for us to say “no” to something even if it is in our best interest so learning to put yourself first and only take on what you can mentally and physically is crucial to mental health and stability to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

If you cannot avoid a certain stressor, accept it as part of your life and take a breath to mindfully choose your response to the person or situation. A simple walk in the morning or after dinner can boost endorphins and lighten your mood. Patients with high stress levels also benefit from good sleep hygiene. Additionally, yoga or meditation can help calm your mind, giving you a moment to stop thinking about your stressors and become more mindful of your body as a whole.

Massage, trigger point therapy, dry needling, and ultrasound are all great treatments for TMJ issues for patients who cannot improve their jaw pain on their own. Such treatments help reduce headaches, neck and facial pain, and may even improve range of motion. Your dentist is your first contact to determine the cause of your jaw pain but it is important to know that you have additional tools at your disposal.

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