Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Stress: The Bigger Impact on Dental Health

In many past blog posts we have covered how oral health impacts our dental health. Poor diet, hygiene and improper dental care can lead to many conditions, such as: diabetes, heart conditions and even cancer, but there are emotional and psychological considerations that can impact our dental health as well. 

Stress is a part of everyone’s life. But the negative impact of stress can lead to a disorder called Temporomandibular disorder or (TMD). This is a common and often over-diagnosed condition, which results in problems with the jaw, and mandibular joints and hinges that control the movement of the jaw, and chewing. 

When people suffer from TMD, movement of the jaw and eating can be painful. Often times, this condition will cause a clicking of these joints on one or both sides. In addition, patients who have TMD may feel soreness in the jawline upon waking up in the morning. This is caused by clenching the jaw and grinding their teeth while they sleep. Many patients do not know they have TMD, and the best way to find out is by visiting a dentist who can identify the characteristics of the disorder. 

Common TMD symptoms include:
  •   Discomfort when yawning and limited ability to open the mouth very wide 
  •   Pain, tenderness and stiffness around the jaw, face and ears when speaking or chewing
  •   Popping and clicking noises upon opening and closing the mouth
  •   Discomfort with biting down on foods that are more difficult to chew
  •   Swelling of the face and jaw area on one side or both
  •   Aches and pains of the back teeth, head, neck and ears
  •   Consistent headaches and ringing in the ears
  •   Teeth and jaw clenching, intermittent pressure  and difficulty speaking
What Causes TMD?
There may be many causes for TMD, but stress can be a very common factor, which cause the symptoms and problems with the muscles and joints. Other common causes are: post-traumatic stress syndrome, injury or accident in the area, dislocation of the discs, ball and socket, and presence of arthritis. TMD can be temporary, but the discomfort can also last years if not diagnosed and treated. 

How Is TMD Diagnosed?
It is best to seek a diagnosis from a qualified dentist to determine if you have TMD or whether your condition is a toothache, sinus problem, gum disease or arthritic issue. Your dentist will take X-rays and examine your mouth to see if there are signs of TMD, to determine a treatment plan. To learn more visit: http://www.tmj.org.