How Does Stress Contribute to TMJ Disorder?

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March 6, 2023

Does your jaw hurt when you open your mouth? If it also hurts when you talk, yawn, or chew, and if you have difficulty opening and closing your mouth, you might need TMJ treatment in Hueytown. All these symptoms are indicative of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD).

In some cases, home care can manage the condition, but professional treatment is necessary for patients with chronic pain. Studies show that one of the contributing factors to TMD is stress.  


What Is the TMJ?

TMJ or temporomandibular joints are located on both sides of your face connecting your lower jaw to your skull. They aid in movements like speaking and chewing. TMD is a condition where your temporomandibular joints are not functioning properly. It occurs when the ligaments and muscles around your joints become irritated and inflamed. TMD can be acute or chronic and can cause mild to severe pain.  

What Are the Symptoms of TMD?

TMD is commonly seen in people between 20 and 40 years old. Studies show that women are more susceptible to TMD than men. Some of the symptoms of this disorder include the following:  

  • Headaches
  • Jaw pain
  • Earaches
  • Neck pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Difficulty opening mouth
  • Difficult chewing
  • Clicking or popping sounds when you open or close your mouth

Can Stress Cause TMD?

What Is the Connection Between Stress and TMJ?

People who are stressed can trigger TMJ disorder symptoms. The symptoms worsen during stressful situations. One possible explanation is that when you are under stress, your body releases stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, which can result in muscle tension throughout your body, including your facial and jaw muscles.  

As a result, people tend to clench their jaws. Clenching and grinding will put unnecessary pressure on your temporomandibular joints leading to pain and discomfort. Furthermore, stress can cause you to engage in unhealthy behaviors that can worsen the symptoms, such as eating hard foods and chewing gum.  

How Is TMD Managed?

Relaxation Techniques

If stress worsens your symptoms, you should find ways to address stress. Examples of stress-reducing strategies include relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga, and deep breathing. Engaging in physical exercise also helps relieve tension in your body.

It’s also helpful to identify the reason behind what’s causing the stress, whether it’s your work or relationships with people. Addressing these matters can reduce your stress level.  


Some doctors prescribe medications to help relieve TMJ pain. Examples of these medications are the following:

  • Anti-inflammatory and pain relievers: If over-the-counter medications do not alleviate the pain, your doctor may prescribe stronger painkillers for a specified time. Make sure you follow the recommended dosage.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants: Although these medications are for depression, they can be given in low doses to relieve pain and help control bruxism.  
  • Muscle relaxants: You may take muscle relaxants to relieve pain caused by muscle spasms.


  • Mouth Guards or Oral Splints: You can benefit from wearing oral splints and mouth guards to prevent jaw pain.
  • Physical therapy: Treatments can also include certain exercises that stretch and strengthen your jaw muscles.
  • Counseling: Education can help you understand factors that can exacerbate the pain so you can avoid them. Examples of behaviors you must avoid are nail biting and teeth clenching.

Do You Need TMJ Treatment in Hueytown?

With proper treatment, your doctor will be able to treat TMJ successfully. Church Family Dental offers a wide range of dental services to improve oral health. Our goal is to offer the absolute best experience. Contact us for a consultation.



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