Stress-induced dental problems

What are Stress-Related Dental Problems?

As you may be aware, stress can affect our bodies is many negative ways. It has been linked to high blood pressure, depression, high blood cholesterol levels, and a number of other ills. What you may not know, however, is that excessive stress can also damage your teeth and jaws.

TMJ and MPD

Two stress-related disorders that affect the mouth are “temporomandibular joint syndrome” (TMJ) and “myofacial pain dysfunction” (MPD). Although not really considered diseases, these two disorders can make life very unpleasant for you. TMJ causes pain in the joints and ligaments of the jaw. MPD is a similar affliction, although the term may refer to stress-related pain in any part of the face (not just the jaw). Both ailments can affect both men and women at any age but are most prevalent in women in their twenties and thirties.

Possible Signs of TMJ or MPD:

  • A cracking, clicking, or popping sensation when you open your mouth to laugh or yawn.

  • Not being able to open your mouth wide.

  • Tenderness or tension in your cheek muscles – particularly first thing in the morning.

How are TMJ and MPD Treated:

If you experience any of these symptoms on a recurring basis, you should consult your dentist, and possibly your doctor. One of the following therapies may be recommended:

  • Relaxation exercises. Since TMJ and MPD are related to tension, conscious attempts at relaxation may help alleviate them.

  • A custom mouth guard made from an impression of your teeth. One of the prime causes of TMJ & MPD is night-time grinding of teeth or clenching of the jaw. A mouth guard worn over your lower set of teeth can prevent them from grinding against the upper teeth. It also provides a cushioning effect, which may reduce the stress on your tired jaw muscles and ligaments.

  • Gentle hand massage to lessen the pain and help relax the affected muscles.

  • Avoiding excessive trauma to the painful areas. Stay away from hard and crispy foods, and try not to open your mouth too wide.

Make sure you take care of your teeth so that you can avoid painful and potentially damaging tooth disorders such as TMJ & MPD. As always good oral hygiene is your best defense against dental diseases -- and remember to keep an eye on your stress levels, too. Your teeth need lots of care and attention to ensure life-long good oral health. Visit your dentist on a regular basis.

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