Known as “the silent killer,” stress is linked to several physical and emotional difficulties. In the short term, stress can cause digestive distress, headaches, sleep disruptions, and fatigue. Left unchecked and it increases risks for heart attack and stroke, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and gastrointestinal disorders.
Stress also impacts oral health.
Stress is linked to increased instances of dry mouth, a condition that can lead to halitosis, larger amounts of plaque and tooth decay, and gum disease. It is also frequently marked by bruxism (tooth grinding), which may even occur during sleep.
Bruxism is a known risk factor for TMJ. This neuromuscular dental issue may come with:
- Jaw swelling and pain
- Clicking, popping, or grinding noises when you eat
- Persistent headaches
- Sinus pressure and pain
- Ear pain and ringing
TMJ changes the strength, tension, and alignment of the bite. This can increase the risks of uneven tooth wear and premature tooth loss. Left untreated, TMJ may alter the posture, impact digestive functioning, and allow for the degeneration of the temporomandibular joints.
Dealing With Stress
Several methods of stress reduction can help to reduce the physical and emotional consequences of this condition. These can include mindfulness practices, setting aside time to relax every day, maintaining a healthy diet, staying active, and keeping close relationships. Intentional living tends to reduce stress and, along with it, behaviors like tooth grinding.
To address tooth grinding itself, an occlusal guard may be needed. This oral device provides a cushion between upper and lower teeth to prevent damage from clenching and grinding. When TMJ is present, an orthotic device that works to realign the jaw may be needed. These can be fixed or removable based on the specific needs of the patient. Other treatments include medications, biofeedback, TENS therapy, orthodontic treatment, and restorative dentistry services.
April is Stress Awareness Month. If you are experiencing jaw pain and you suspect it has to do with stress, give us a call at 201-792-9400 to schedule your initial consultation today. Located in Hoboken, we welcome patients from all surrounding areas of New Jersey.