The sudden changes of a pandemic like COVID-19 can increase our stress levels and cause anxiety about the present moment and the future. Stress is your body’s response to being presented with volatile situations. It can unfortunately threaten your health when it lasts for a prolonged period of time. This can lead to a variety of health complications like TMJ, which is related to bruxism.
Bruxism is the unconscious grinding and clenching of the teeth and jaw. This usually happens when you are asleep. Chronic bruxism can lead to temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, a condition in which your jaw joints are misaligned due to ongoing teeth clenching and grinding.
How Does Stress Affect TMJ?
Stress can be the root cause of TMJ disorder. Anxiety and stress can sometimes cause you to unintentionally grind your teeth or clench your jaw through-out the day and when you’re sleeping, often because your mind is working in over-time. In some cases, you may hold your jaw in a clenched position when you’re wide awake and deep in thought.
Over time, these actions can cause pain and feelings of tightness in your jaw and the muscles surrounding it. Pain may also equal less quality sleep, which can further add to stress and anxiety.
Three Approaches to TMJ Disorder at Dentalife
The pain from temporomandibular joint disorder can hinder your daily quality of life and enjoyment of the activities you participate in. Thankfully, there are ways to help relieve the pain and potentially correct the condition. Dr. Westersund, a dentist in Calgary, takes a neuromuscular approach to dental issues.
He often diagnoses TMJ disorder by taking a scan of your mouth’s airways, your jaw, jaw joints and neck. After the consultation, available treatment options will be discussed with you.
Below are the traditional steps used at Dentalife to help heal TMJ disorder and assist you with gaining a greater sense of well-being.
1. Occlusal Rebalance
Generally, this type of appointment lasts 60 minutes and has the purpose of improving your bite’s balance. This process involves taking a special scan of your teeth to measure where you may be exerting excessive pressure on your teeth when clenching your jaw or chewing. The goal is to make your teeth touch with a steady force and alleviate strain on your jaw.
2. Testing for Diagnosis
This therapy process assesses your jaw and neck muscles to find your optimal bite alignment. From there, a dental appliance called an orthotic can be designed specifically for your mouth’s unique shape. The procedure usually lasts for 3 hours.
3. Inserting the TMJ Orthotics
At this treatment stage, your TMJ dental appliance, also known as Natural Fit Orthotic, is inserted in your mouth and tested for fit and effectiveness. The length of time you will need to wear it depends on your specific TMJ treatment needs. Please note, they are designed for minimal interference in your daily life.
As the condition of your jaw improves, your orthotic device may require future adjustments for continued balanced support. Dr. Westersund will follow-up with you and ensure the necessary changes are made to keep your treatment in progression.
Take Control of Your TMJ
Dr. Westersund and the Dentalife life team are committed to making the mouth-body-life connection to help you improve your health and live a happier life. Particular treatment options may be impacted by COVID-19. However, we are playing our part in flattening the curve by treating emergency dental needs.
We are here for you and ready to support you, even from a distance — whether you are in a critical state of pain and need in-practice treatment or have dental issues you need addressed before amplifying into an emergency.
Contact Dr. Westersund by phone at 403-262-9898 or via email for all your dental related issues. Remember to stay safe and well during these trying times.