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Jaw Problems: Managing Stress

Topic Overview

There is a strong relationship between stress, muscle tension, and temporomandibular disorders (TMDs).

An overstressed mind can lead to an overstressed body. Excessive tension in your jaw muscles can force your jaw joint to move in an unnatural manner. Over time, you may damage the disc that cushions the TM joint, or you may wear down some of your teeth, forcing your jaw into an unnatural position.

Manage stress

Learn to recognize when stress is affecting your life, and find ways to relieve it.

  • Exercise is an excellent way for your body to process stress in a healthy way.
  • Relaxation skills and activities can make a big difference in how stress affects your body and mind.

For tips, see the topic Stress Management. Also see the topic Mental Health Problems and Mind-Body Wellness.

Emotional stress can be the result of:

  • Sudden changes in your life, such as the loss of a loved one. Stress can also accompany positive changes, such as starting a new job.
  • Problems at home or at work.
  • Worrying about your performance at work, at school, or in an athletic event.
  • Anxiety or depression.

Try cognitive-behavioral therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy can be a helpful part of treatment, because TMDs have a strong connection to stress.

Cognitive-behavioral counseling helps you understand and solve problems in life that may be causing stress. Some people find the cognitive-behavioral approach especially helpful for changing negative attitudes and coping skills.

Manage chronic pain

In some cases, TMDs can be extremely painful and disabling and last a long time. Such chronic pain can affect a person's overall quality of life by increasing stress, making it hard to do a job, and interfering with personal life.

Depression and anxiety are common results of chronic pain. In these cases, it is especially important to seek treatment for TMD pain and for related depression and anxiety.

If you have symptoms of depression, seek treatment. Treatment can help you feel better.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Arden Christen, DDS, MSD, MA, FACD - Dentistry
Last Revised January 11, 2012

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