December 9, 2018
How could the holiday season and jaw pain possibly be related? The answer is simple: for many people, the holidays can be really tough times. Thus, it’s not uncommon for stress and anxiety levels to be higher, which can contribute to jaw health problems. Learn about the risks of taking the holidays too serious and how TMJ therapy can help to relieve any discomfort you may be feeling.
Possible Sources of Holiday Stress
The holiday season is supposed to be a joyous time of the year, but for some people, there can be some stressors that dampen the fun. Here are some of the possible causes of anxiety:
- Feeling lonely
- Pressure to fulfill expensive wish lists
- Sad memories of a loved one who has deceased
- Anxiety about seeing family members that you don’t get along with
One of the responses you may have to any of the above situations, whether consciously or subconsciously, is to clench and grind your teeth. Such activities can lead to accelerated enamel wear and TMJ (temporomandibular) disorder, which is also referred to as TMD.
What is TMD?
The TMJ is located in front of your earlobe on each side of your face. It is a dynamic joint complex that can open and close your mouth and also move your jaw forward-and-back and side-to-side. Because of its ability to move through so many planes of motion and the frequency of usage, it is already more vulnerable to eventual wear.
When there is added pressure applied to the joint from clenching or grinding your teeth, any possible wear is only expedited. The result can be pain and inflammation, which is referred to as TMD.
What are Some of the Warning Signs of TMD?
Here are some of the common symptoms of TMD to be on the lookout for:
- Swelling in the face
- Headaches and earaches
- Pain in the face, jaw or ear
- Pain and pressure behind the eyes
- Clicking or popping when the jaw opens
- Jaw that gets stuck or moves out of place
How to Get Relief
The first step to recovering from holiday-related TMD is to not “sweat the small stuff.” Instead of focusing on the things that you can’t control and any other negative aspects, take time to reflect on the victories and triumphs you’ve had over the year and truly celebrate them.
To get direct relief for the symptoms of TMD, your dentist in Angier may recommend a custom mouthguard to be worn at night. Additionally, you can start some home exercises like practicing facial relaxation, gently massaging your jaw and alternating between cold and hot applications to the TMJ.
By reaching out to your local specialist for treatment and taking a more relaxed approach to the holidays, you can enjoy a pain-free end of the year.
About the Author
An expert in TMJ therapy, Dr. Brenda Gong is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Since earning her dental degree, she has remained a life-long learner, taking over 100 hours of continuing education annually. Dr. Gong combines her vast knowledge of gnathological and neuromuscular principles to provide expert treatment of TMD issues at Accent Family Dentistry, and she can be reached for more information through her website.
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