TMJ & Stress
The temporomandibular joints are two joints located on either side of your lower jaw. The temporomandibular joints attach the lower jaw to the skull and allow for the full range of motion of the jaw. Facial pain and discomfort can develop around these joints if they are misaligned or if the facial muscles become fatigued, causing a painful condition called temporomandibular Dysfunction (TMD). Experienced neuromuscular dentists Dr. Scott LeSueur and Dr. Charles Dodaro provide treatment for TMD/TMJ pain to patients in the Phoenix area.
Stress and TMD/TMJ
Stress is one of the many causes of TMD related pain. Everyone handles stress differently. Many people clench their jaw, grind their teeth, or tense their facial muscles unknowingly when they are stressed. This puts strain on the facial muscles and temporomandibular joints.
The muscles in the face can become overworked and fatigued leading to facial pain and discomfort. Due to misalignments and injury,the muscles on one side face may work harder and pull the jaw into a unhealthy position to adjust to the jaw misalignment. While other musclesmay then work to pull the jaw back to its proper position. Many times muscle groups opposing each other are a large contributing factor to TMJ dysfunction and muscle spasms and inability to open or close may result.
Your TMD symptoms may be caused by stress and lead to pain and discomfort. Or, if you already have symptoms of TMD, you may feel stressed because you are constantly in pain. Feeling stressed about your symptoms may make the pain worse.
Treatments for TMD/TMJ
Dr. LeSueur and Dr. Dodaro offer non-surgical treatments for TMD. Generally, Surgical treatments are only used as a last resort if non-surgical treatments do not correct the causes of the symptoms. All treatments are designed to get at the correct cause of your pain rather than only treating the symptoms.
Depending on your specific symptoms, Dr. LeSueur and Dr. Dodaro may suggest one or a combination of several non-surgical TMD treatments. Symptoms of TMD caused or exacerbated by stress can be treated with stress management therapy in conjunction with other non-surgical treatments. You will notice a great deal of relief once your stress is controlled. Many patients are unaware of how stressful their lives are until they undergo stress management therapy.
Additional non-surgical treatments for TMD include:
- Exercises for facial muscle relaxation
- TENS unit
- Correction of jaw alignment
- Oral therapy appliances
- Hot and cold compresses