National Stress Awareness Month: TMJ and Anxiety

Stressed BusinessmanThe Federal Occupational Health unit of the US Department of Health and Human Services has declared April “National Stress Awareness Month.” The organization hopes that this campaign will help individuals learn to recognize the causes of stress and take steps to control anxiety in their daily lives. The FOH also warns that stress can have a major impact on your overall health, affecting you in ways you may never have imagined. While the organization does not specifically mention TMJ, dentists have long known about the link between stress and this condition. If you suffer from TMJ Disorder, your Fort Worth dentist can provide effective orthodontic treatment. He also encourages you to learn more about stress and how you can control your tension.

How Stress Affects You

In today’s hectic world, stress can come from nearly every aspect of your life. Work, kids, financial concerns, family illnesses: the list is nearly endless. When you feel stressed and anxious , your body’s fight-or-flight instinct sets in, raising the stress hormones that enable quick, decisive action. These hormones could save your life in the event of imminent danger. However, when their levels rise due to non-threatening worries, they simply increase your heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar. In some cases, stress hormones can also suppress your immune and digestive systems.

How Stress Leads to TMJ

This complicated biochemical reaction can also have an enormous impact on your jaw. When the fight-or-flight response sets in, your muscles tense up, causing you to unconsciously grind your teeth and clinch your jaw. Not only does this inflame your jaw muscles; it can also damage the soft, cushioning disc inside your jaw, causing it to erode or slip out of place. As your stress increases, you may experience radiating pain in your head, neck, and face.

Stress Management Tips

If you suffer from TMJ, Dr. Cabal can provide effective relief using oral splints, which realign your jaw and prevent you from grinding your teeth. He may also recommend braces to treat the condition. However, you should also address the underlying causes of your TMJ by identifying sources of anxiety and learning to control your stress. The FOH recommends that you train yourself to recognize when you have control of a situation and to let it go when the circumstances are out of your hands. Of course, if you are prone to anxiety, you know that developing this new attitude is not as simple as it sounds. Fortunately, certain activities can slow your heart rate, lower your stress hormones, and help you to feel calmer. If you feel constant stress, try:

  • Setting up a daily exercise routine
  • Getting more sleep
  • Doing yoga
  • Journaling
  • Taking time for an activity you love
  • Going for a walk
  • Cutting back on caffeine and alcohol
  • Talking to someone who can help

These things help to control your TMJ and your biochemical reaction to stress. In addition, as you feel calmer, you may be better equipped to identify stress factors and to cultivate a new attitude towards worry.

About Dr. Cabal

Dr. Ciro Cabal offers compassionate orthodontic care to patients of all ages, and he is dedicated to providing effective relief from TMJ and jaw pain. Dr. Cabal proudly serves patients from Ft. Worth, Azle, Saginaw, Springtown, Weatherford, Haslet, and the surrounding communities. To schedule an appointment, call Lake Country Orthodontics today at (817) 236-7846.