Stress and Anxiety Could Be Harming the Jaw

With so much turmoil going on in the world around us right now, it’s natural to feel added stress and anxiety. That stress and anxiety can manifest itself in many ways, including in our diets and in habits we don’t even realize we’re doing. For example, it may make people smoke more if they’re smokers, or bite their nails more if they’re nail biters. But one particularly dangerous way stress manifests itself is in teeth grinding – which could not only ruin your teeth, but also cause damage to your jaw.

Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is an especially dangerous habit because we often aren’t aware we are doing it. Many people grind their teeth in the night without realizing it, but many also grind them unconsciously throughout the day – especially in moments of high stress and tension.

Teeth grinding can cause many problems, including pitted and cracked teeth, chipped teeth, and jaw stiffness and soreness. That jaw stiffness and soreness can develop into something a lot more serious: temporomandibular joint dysfunction.

Typically caused by a misalignment of the lower portion of the jaw to the upper, temporomandibular joint dysfunction can be genetic, caused by injury to the jaw, or develop over time due to strain or other reasons. Whatever the cause behind your temporomandibular joint dysfunction, this condition can be very painful and cause stiffness, soreness, tinnitus (ringing of the ears), neck pain, back pain and even severe headaches.

If you find yourself suffering from temporomandibular joint dysfunction, or suspect you may be, it’s important that you speak to Dr. Block at your earliest convenience. He can assess your jaw and help formulate a treatment plan if you do have temporomandibular joint dysfunction.

Common treatment for this condition may include orthodontics, physical therapy and custom orthotics designed to position your jaw correctly and alleviate some of the pain. You may also be prescribed a custom bite guard that will absorb the impact of grinding your teeth if you have bruxism. Believe it or not, your teeth can exert 70 pounds of pressure per square inch, which means when they press against each other, your jaw is bearing the brunt of that pressure!

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Block, please call the office at 510-793-0801.

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