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How Stress and Anxiety Can Cause TMJ/TMD Pain

Treating Temporomandibular Dysfunction
Close-up of a woman holding her cheek

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Once you’ve found a reliable dentist’s office and signed your family up for it, won’t your dental problems vanish? Given the high-stress lifestyle that many of us lead, you may wish to put oral health out of your mind. However, your body’s painful response to that stress might force dentistry back in your head where it can’t be ignored.

We notice how our patients’ day-to-day lives affect their mouths. And, in truth, your daily habits affect your oral health just as much as your diet. That’s why we offer cosmetic, restorative, and TMJ dental treatments as well. And with flexible scheduling, affordable options, and patient-focused care, Reston residents can choose their plan of care. Our services will put your mind at ease while also informing you of the effects that your lifestyle has on your oral health.

Below, we discuss how stress and anxiety affect TMJ/TMD and then detail our treatment options:

What are Stress, Anxiety, and TMJ/TMD?

First, we define stress as the body’s response to the events and situations of daily life. While each of us can handle stress in small amounts, it can become overwhelming in response to any novel, threatening, and/or chaotic events. Its symptoms include trouble sleeping, headaches, muscle tension, and teeth-grinding (bruxism).

Second, anxiety refers to worry and fear over events (or the outcome of events). Again, we all experience varying levels of anxiety in our lives, but large quantities can cause panic attacks that paralyze sufferers. Its symptoms include fear, tension, and trouble sleeping or concentrating.

Finally, “TMJ” is short for temporomandibular joint and “TMD” for temporomandibular disorder. The TMJ connects your jaw to your skull; thus, a TMJ disorder refers to the misalignment and pain of this joint. This condition is considered a type of TMD, and its symptoms include headaches, facial pain around the cheeks or jaw, and difficulty chewing.

How They Are Linked

As we’ve discussed before, oral health involves more than just teeth. A healthy mouth includes properly-functioning jaw muscles and joints as well. Thus, dentists and anyone else interested in dental wellness should be aware of the symptoms and causes of TMJ/TMD.

You may have noticed that stress, anxiety, and TMJ/TMD share some symptoms (including tension and headaches). Furthermore, cause-and-effect links may be drawn between these conditions. For instance, the muscle tension and bruxism of stress may bring about tension, jaw pain, and difficult chewing – which indicate TMJ/TMD.

To make matters worse, realizing that one suffers from TMJ/TMD may cause further stress and anxiety. If left untreated, you may struggle to open and close your mouth, which you will definitely feel anxious over. Thus, these ailments both bring about and reinforce one another.


On your own, treating these conditions may be tricky. But Airway and Sleep Group offers TMJ/TMD services for this very reason. During a standard check-up appointment, we can investigate whether you suffer from TMJ/TMD and, if so, provide relief from its discomfort.

To do so, we will adjust your daily habits to prevent symptoms from worsening. These steps may include simple steps such as practicing good posture and avoiding gum-chewing. We’ll also investigate whether you grind your teeth or have other tension-producing activities.

Lastly, should you need other treatments, we might suggest sedation dentistry. This involves a local anesthetic to numb your mouth so that the dentist can conduct the necessary procedures. It prevents pain and discomfort arising from TMJ/TMD.

TMJ Dental Treatment and Comprehensive Dentistry Services for Reston, VA

At Airway and Sleep Group, we know that family life can often be stressful and time-consuming. But with health care and treatment, you can maintain your bright smile. While you may not be able to avoid stress entirely, our TMJ dental treatment can ensure you don’t suffer from it. We welcome individuals and families from all over Reston and Northern Virginia. Give us a call today.

Airway & Sleep Group

11800 Sunrise Valley Dr.
Suite 200
Reston, VA 20191

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