Can Anxiety Cause Jaw Pain?

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Dr. Natália Morales is a specialist in Endodontics, Implantology, Dental Prosthesis and 3d Dentistry and has been dedicated for 14 years to caring for patients with odontophobia. Reference in humanized care.

Mandible is the name given to one of the bones of the skull. It is associated with the movements used when we speak or chew. These movements are possible thanks to a structure called the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).

Cracks, pains and other disorders in this region are not common and indicate that something is wrong. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the relationship between jaw pain and anxiety, in addition to other factors that can cause these discomforts.

We created this informative post to answer your questions and help you take better care of your jaw health. Continue reading and stay on top of the subject!


What can cause jaw pain?

There are many possible causes for jaw pain. It can be acute — that is, fleeting — or chronic — when it lasts longer than a few weeks or months.

In acute cases, pain can be caused by trauma (injuries) or even repetitive effort, such as chewing a lot of gum.

In chronic cases, jaw pain is usually generated by:

• temporomandibular disorder;
• inflammations in the region;
• bruxism.


What is the relationship between jaw pain and anxiety?

Anxiety can also be divided into two parts. There is the feeling of feeling anxious, which is a passing thing — being a personality characteristic of each of us — and then there is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

In this case, the feeling of anxiety is frequent, and there is an extreme response to the stimulus, which chronically generates physical and emotional symptoms.

In both cases, the act of locking the jaw can cause pain in the region. It can be acute — when it happens punctually — or chronic — when it is something more complex and occurs many times throughout life.


How is pain in the jaw configured?

Jaw pain is characterized by a stabbing or burning sensation in the jaw area.

It can happen at rest or when the patient moves — to talk and yawn, for example. Jaw pain when chewing may also be present. Cracks may or may not be associated with this issue.

How to treat jaw pain?

Treating jaw pain requires a multidisciplinary approach, involving physicians, dentists and psychologists — and sometimes physical therapists and speech therapists. Thus, it is possible to resolve the association between jaw pain and anxiety.

What are the recommended procedures to solve this problem?

Some possible treatment approaches used in this matter are:

• use of medication, such as analgesics (for pain), relaxants and anti-inflammatories;
• use of plates for bruxism, in order to avoid compression in the region;
• carrying out therapy;
• inclusion of relaxation techniques;
• recommendation to practice physical exercises.

The treatment will always be personalized and suited to your needs and your lifestyle!


What is TMD – Temporomandibular Disorder?

A TMD – Temporomandibular Disorders (also known as TMJ) is a problem related to the joint that connects the mandibular bone to the skull, being responsible for opening and closing the mouth.

So, when we have a set of problems and an abnormality in the functioning of this joint, overload occurs. When this happens, there are a number of pains that can happen, such as orofacial discomfort.

Click here and check out another article about DTM here on our blog.


What are the main causes of TMJ pain?

The causes that lead to temporomandibular disorders and orofacial pain are varied. They range from stress and anxiety to injury to the site and dental arcade problems.

These are the problems that most cause TMD:

• bruxism—a type of functional disorder known for grinding or even clenching the teeth while sleeping. The pressure exerted by this act can lead to tooth wear and softening and, in the most serious cases, to TMD;
• incorrect chewing — each human tooth has a specific function, such as cutting and grinding. The lack of one of them or even poor positioning in the dental arch can lead to incorrect chewing, which generates a series of problems from slow eating to orofacial pain;
• dental malocclusion — caused by poor alignment of upper and lower teeth, if they do not close correctly in the bite, causing problems such as TMD;
• trauma to the region — injuries to the jaw and jaw as well as the head or neck can result in the problem.


What are the symptoms that may indicate a TMJ disorder?

Patients with temporomandibular disorders and orofacial pain often experience the symptoms of clicking or popping sounds when opening and closing the mouth. In addition, they may have difficulty opening their mouth, managing to make only a small opening, not a large one.

We also highlight swelling in the region and earaches. But there are other symptoms that need to be considered, as we will explain further below.


It is common for temporomandibular disorders and orofacial pain to be associated with headaches. They can be the throbbing type, like migraines, or the more common tension type. The latter causes the patient a feeling that the head is being pressed. Remembering that there may be a reflection still on the face.

pain when yawning

If there is pain when yawning or opening the mouth, this may indicate that TMD is present. This act should be painless, therefore, if it causes discomfort it is good to check the causes to avoid further problems.

stuck jaw

In this case, if when opening the mouth the jaw displaces and does not return, with the need for a specialist to put it in place, it is very likely that it is a problem of temporomandibular dysfunction.

It is essential to pay attention, as these crashes can be temporary, so they resolve themselves. However, there are also cases where the patient cannot have a mouth opening.

muscle flaccidity

Muscle flaccidity and facial fatigue are among the signs of TMD. When there is a weakening of the fibers that form the muscles, you can lose strength and the ability to perform certain movements.

Pain and ringing in the ear

One of the most common symptoms of TMD is ear pain or even tinnitus. This happens due to the proximity between the teeth and the ear. Dental malocclusion can cause a mandibular problem that will be reflected in the area.

Other subtypes of temporomandibular disorders also cause ear reflexes, such as inflammation and trauma to the jaw area.


What to do when feeling pain in the TMJ?

When experiencing pain in the TMJ, the best thing to do is to seek a dentist, so that he starts the appropriate treatment for your case. Today, there are different types of care that can be used to alleviate and prevent the problem from causing even more pain.


Although surgical intervention is necessary, the priority for the treatment of temporomandibular disorders and orofacial pain is to relieve the patient's pain. Therefore, the first attitude to take is to carry out a clinical treatment. The goal is to eliminate both muscle and joint inflammation, improving mandibular movement.

For this, analgesics, muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatories are used, even more so when the pain is acute. If you have your TMD caused by bruxism, the treatment consists of using an acrylic plate at night, made in a personalized way for the patient.

In certain cases, relaxation activities and other techniques are applied to help control mandibular tension — this is what we call TMJ physical therapy. Now, if the problem is caused by malocclusion, orthodontic appliances are a tool used in treatment.

As a last resort, surgical procedures. In general, they are indicated for patients who need joint correction.


How to choose a dentist for this treatment?

For each oral problem there is a dental professional to work in that specific area. In the case of TMJ dysfunction, the treating dentist is a specialist in temporomandibular disorders and orofacial pain. But if there is a need for a surgical intervention, it will be necessary to have the help of an oral and maxillofacial dentist.

It is very important to choose a professional carefully when performing the procedure. Take references, get to know his specialization well, observe the materials used and the effectiveness of other treatments already performed by him.

At OdontoLiuzzi, you will find professionals prepared for the treatment of temporomandibular disorders and orofacial pain. The later the patient looks for a professional, the more the condition can evolve to a degree of severe mandibular fractures that are difficult to treat.

So, in the face of suspected DTM, contact us and schedule your appointment!

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