Raise awareness of TMJ dysfunction for World Mental Health Day

Do you ever catch yourself (or someone you know) grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw?

Do you often wake up with a headache and jaw pain?

Does your jaw sometimes pop, click or lock?

If so, there's a chance you have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJD for short).

Millions of people live with this condition and most people don't even know they have it. While TMJD can sometimes have a physical cause, it can also be the result of stress and anxiety.

Monday 10th October 2016 is World Mental Health Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness of mental health issues that don't get talked about often enough. Help us spread the word about TMJD this October, so that people who are suffering from this preventable condition can get the treatment they need and make positive changes to their lives.

What causes TMJD?

Your temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are the joints that connect your jaw to your skull. They are among the most complex and important joints in the body – and unfortunately, also some of the easiest to damage.

Your TMJ can be injured, damaged or put under pressure by:

  • trauma from injuries
  • excessive teeth grinding or jaw clenching (bruxism)
  • alignment problems between your jaws and teeth
  • medical conditions such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.

If teeth grinding and jaw clenching are the reason behind your TMJD, you need to ask yourself: Why are you grinding or clenching in the first place? Do you remember when this habit first started?

For many people, stress and anxiety lie at the root of their TMJ dysfunction.

How can you overcome TMJD?

In a typical day, your teeth should only come into contact when you're eating. If you often find yourself grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw while you're awake, think about how you're feeling at those times.

For some people, it happens when they're concentrating. For others, when they feel angry or stressed. Whatever the reason, grinding and clenching are no good for your teeth, your jaw or your TMJ. If you don't find a way to break this habit, not only will the discomfort continue, but you could also be risking permanent damage to your jaw joint and tooth loss.

One of the best ways to overcome TMJD is to try to reduce the stress and worries in your life as much as possible (this is good advice for life generally!) If you only grind your teeth when you're asleep, try to wind down and relax in the evenings before going to sleep. Whether that means aromatherapy oils or a soothing bath, a glass of red or a cup of herbal tea, whatever works for you.

If that still doesn't relieve your symptoms, you can stop yourself grinding for good by wearing a mouthguard custom-fitted by your dental practitioner.

Do you know someone with TMJD?

Maybe you're not the one who's suffering from TMJD, but you know someone who is. The theme of this year's World Mental Health Day is 'psychological first aid' – offering support to people who are dealing with a difficult psychological issue and might not have anyone to turn to.

If someone you care about is dealing with stress and might be putting their oral health at risk too, advise them to speak to their dental practitioner about TMJD treatments.

Contact Ocean Reef Dental Surgery on 9307 6700 to find out how we can help you overcome TMJ dysfunction.