The connection between jaw problems and psychological issues may seem distant yet studies show that untreated temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) may cause mood disorders.
What is TMJ?
TMJ refers to issues in the muscles found in the jaw, which are often due to jaw injury, stress, teeth grinding, bad posture and misaligned teeth.
According to Hermes London Dental Clinic, TMJ is only among the jaw problems that could cause discomfort and other unfortunate outcomes if left untreated. While most symptoms suggest only jaw clenching and susceptibility to lockjaw as consequences, there could be a link between TMJ with anxiety and clinical depression.
So, where is the connection?
The Relationship of Jaw Problems with Psychology
There are some physical ways to tell if someone has anxiety or depression. Though they are not universal, there are enough common signs found in patients suffering from these disorders.
In a study conducted with over 4,000 volunteers, researchers found that certain habits and genetic factors linked TMJ with depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some of these include teeth grinding and jaw clenching.
The relationship between the two conditions acts as a cycle where one triggers the other; the physical symptoms of psychological issues may lead to hyperactivity in the jaw muscles. At the same time, TMJ-related pain could worsen chemical imbalances found in people with mood disorders.
Available Treatments for TMJ and Other Jaw Problems
TMJ often causes discomfort, pain and irritability in patients. Fortunately, there are available treatments and the right one depends on the severity of the case.
When a patient’s TMJ is due to crowded or impacted teeth, orthodontic treatment can help improve the condition. Some treatments also include biting custom hard plastic to prevent damaging the teeth. More severe cases often require drastic measures, like oral maxillofacial surgery.
In a best-case scenario, TMJ will only cause an odd headache every so often. The condition may worsen, however, and leaving it untreated could lead to not only physical, but also psychological and emotional consequences.