Holiday Stress-Related TMJ Pain: Tips for Treating Your Pain This Season

holiday stress tmj symptoms

The holiday season is one of love, giving, family, and comfort.

For many people, it’s their favorite time of year. We spend more time with family, attend parties, and shop more than usual for the perfect gifts.

Yet, the holiday season is also one of the most high-stress times of year for many people. They worry about making this time of year extra special. That on it’s own takes a lot of time, a lot planning, and a whole lot of money.

The most stressed out we become, the more susceptible we are to health issues. TMJ disorder (TMD) symptoms for patients that are not yet in treatment is a prime example. These symptoms can include headaches, migraines, and tension in the neck and shoulders, jaw joint noise and many others.

What is the relationship between the TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder and stress? And what can you do to reduce stress and TMJ pain?

Why holiday stress could be exacerbating painful TMJ symptoms

As much as I love the holidays, I meet untreated patients suffering from chronic headaches and excruciating migraines. More so now that anytime of the year.

During my TMJ disorder (TMD) assessments, I find that many of them are experiencing intensified TMJ symptoms.

The relationship between stress and TMJ discomfort is an intricate one.

First of all, we have to look at the underlying issue that causes TMJ issues: a misaligned bite.

When the bite is out of alignment, it puts pressure on the muscles and tendons of the face, head, neck, and shoulders. This can result in muscle tension and pain

Unfortunately, when you add stress into the mix, the problem gets even worse.

There’s already a ton of pressure on your muscles. Then, when you’re under stress, your muscles tighten even more. At some point, your muscles can’t handle the added tension and you can end up with a headache.

It’s kind of like if you filled a bucket full of water and then tried to hold it up with a stretched out arm. It doesn’t take long before your muscles can’t support the weight or tension any longer. If you try to push past the discomfort, you can end up injuring yourself and causing even more pain.

Another reason why stress can wreak havoc on our jaw joints is because stress makes it difficult to sleep. Instead of getting the rest and recovery we need, we toss and turn, clench and grind our teeth, and wake up miserable.

We need to do all we can to reduce our stress. After all, this is a great time of year – we should be enjoying it, not stuck on the couch with a migraine.

How to Reduce Stress and TMJ Pain Over the Holidays and Beyond

What can you do to get through the holidays relatively without stress? Here are some important steps to take as the holidays get closer.

1. Get Plenty of Rest

Getting adequate sleep might seem out of the question, but it’s essential. If you want to reduce your painful symptoms and anxiety level, plus complete all the tasks on your To Do List this season – you need your rest first! If you do not sleep well on a regular basis, many TMD sufferers also have sleep breathing disorders or obstructive sleep apnea. People with TMD should also be tested for OSA as they often coincide. This is a topic for another discussion…

2. Eat a TMJ-Friendly Diet

There are many foods that can aggravate your TMJ symptoms. Avoid the following foods whenever you can.

  • Chewing gum
  • Inflammatory foods, like refined, processed foods (white sugar, white flour) and dairy
  • Crunchy foods, like carrots and crusty bread, opening wide for apples etc…

Chewy foods, like dried fruit and chewy candy, even steak or other chewy meats!!

3. Ask for Help

We all have a ton of things to get done before the end of the year. But you don’t have to do everything on your own. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Doing so can reduce stress and give you and your loved ones an opportunity to spend some time together.

As your TMJ Treatment Provider, contact me for TMJ Treatments that work

Ultimately, the best way to treat your TMJ symptoms is to see a TMJ treatment provider that offers solutions through a physiologic/neuromuscular approach. That just means that we look and fix the cause of the problem as opposed to simply giving you a temporary fix.

When you visit my West Kelowna dentist office, I will do a TMJ assessment to find out the underlying source of your TMJ pain.

In most cases, the main issue is a misaligned bite. I can help align the bite through a combination of physiologic orthotic treatment and bite adjustments. A second phase of treatment, after the symptoms are controlled, may be physiologic orthodontics or restorative treatment like crowns, partials, dentures or implants, or a combination of all or some of these.

Patients who have had these treatments have reported great results. Once we tackled the underlying issue to their pain, they now feel great and like themselves again.

Feeling the holiday stress this season? Avoid painful TMJ symptoms if you already suspect you have TMD by following our tips. Please do what you can to reduce your everyday stress. Then, feel free to contact my office to find a long-lasting pain prevention solution.

Do you suspect that your chronic headaches might be caused by TMJ disorder? Take our questionnaire to find out. Then, contact us to schedule a TMJ evaluation appointment.