Does TMJ Disorder Cause Depression and Anxiety?

Does TMJ Disorder Cause Depression and Anxiety?

Apr 01, 2022

Unless you know enough about TMJ disorder, you may not appreciate the severity of the condition. Medical experts and researchers continue to explore the link between TMJ disorders and other health problems like stress, depression, and anxiety.

What Is TMJ?

It is an acronym for temporomandibular joint, a connective joint between the jawbone and the skull. When the joint is dysfunctional, it introduces several oral problems, including:

  1. Pain in your jaw when you chew, eat, laugh, or yawn
  2. Jaw lock – the mouth gets stuck in the open-mouth position
  3. Swollen cheeks
  4. Migraine headaches
  5. Ear pain
  6. Toothaches
  7. Clicking sounds when you move your mouth

The dysfunction of the joint results in a condition called TMD, temporomandibular joint disorder. However, many people use TMJ and TMD interchangeably to refer to the dysfunction of the connective tissue.

What Causes TMJ Disorder?

TMJ disorder can occur due to a direct impact on the location of the joint, the area on your cheeks right underneath the ears. However, some causes of TMD may comprise the movement of the jawbone gradually over time. Some of the factors that affect the functionality of your jawbone’s connective joint include the following:

  1. Dental injuries or accidents – dental trauma is a common cause of jaw-related problems in dentistry. People involved in high-contact sports like football and boxing must wear mouthguards and other protective gear to protect their mouths.
  2. Bruxism – is a condition featuring excessive teeth clenching and teeth grinding. When you persistently and repeatedly glide your teeth against each other, the force can cause unnecessary tension and pressure on the TMJ.
  3. Stress – stressful situations can cause intense anxiety and depression. The consequence is that you clench your face a lot, putting pressure on both your facial muscles and your jawbone. Eventually, stress may result in TMD.
  4. Infections – TMJ caused by infections is not as common as other causes. However, an infection in your nasal or oral cavity may be enough to cause changes in the performance of the TMJ. Further, the human body typically responds to infections with inflammation. The swelling may spread to the TMJ and cause other jaw-related problems.

Does TMJ Affect the Brain?

At Warm Family Dentistry, our dental specialists continue to examine and evaluate the relationship between TMJ disorders and brain activity. Technically, TMJ disorder results in many other symptoms in the body that have nothing to do with the oral cavity. For instance, during TMJ Treatment in Salt Lake City, UT, your dentist may address other pain areas like the neck, shoulder, or head. In the same way, the functionality of TMJ affects the equilibrium of different parts of your head, which makes sense that TMD would impact cognitive function.

Taylorsville dentists have found that patients suffering from TMJ disorders tend to be stressed and unsettled due to the various pains they experience in their bodies. When you have a persistent headache, aching jaw, neck, and shoulders, it is not unreasonable that you would be unsettled and in distress. Besides, TMD over-indulges your brain to the focus of your pain. With a lot of effort channeled to your pain, your brain can hardly focus on other areas of life. Without treatment by a dentist in Salt Lake City, UT, TMD can affect many cognitive functions, especially due to the pain you experience. Some of the ways that TMJ disorders may affect your brain are:

  1. Reduced concentration
  2. Heightened stress and anxiety
  3. Slowed planning and execution of tasks
  4. Poor sleeping patterns
  5. Heightened sensitivity to touch
  6. Hearing problems

The Direct Impact of TMD on Anxiety and Depression

Although stress could be why you suffer TMD, the disorder itself can result in anxiety and depression. Many patients who battle chronic pains are diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorders. With TMD, the stakes are higher because it results in pain in different body parts. A chronic case of TMD may leave you experiencing pain in multiple areas of your upper body. Relying on pain medication while your brain delegates an incredible amount of effort toward your body pain can lead to depressive thoughts.

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