Is your blood pressure more than 120 over 80? If so, you have high blood pressure, a condition that is linked to TMD. May is National Blood Pressure Month so we’re doing our part to help people lower their blood pressure and reduce TMJ symptoms simultaneously.
The Connection Between High Blood Pressure and TMJ
Stress is the common denominator between high blood pressure (hypertension) and TMJ. It is a root cause for TMJ pain and high blood pressure in many cases, and more stress often makes both matters worse.
Blood pressure measures two things: the pressure in arteries during a heartbeat (systolic, higher number) and the pressure in arteries in between beats (diastolic, lower number). Doctors at the Mayo Clinic note that stress can cause temporary spikes in your blood pressure, as surging hormones cause the arteries to constrict and the heart to beat faster. This same stress can also cause some people to involuntarily clench and tense muscles, which is often the case for people with TMJ pain.
Two other commonalities between high blood pressure and TMD are age and certain lifestyle choices. Both conditions can happen at any age, but tend to worsen as a person gets older. Doctors have found that high blood pressure and TMD are more common in people over the age of 50. Smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, overeating and poor sleep habits can also cause high blood pressure and/or TMJ problems.
Relaxation Tips That Help Improve TMJ Pain & High Blood Pressure
In addition to avoiding some lifestyle choices, high blood pressure and TMJ pain can be improved by reducing stress. Researchers are still studying whether stress can lead to long-term high blood pressure, but experts agree that relaxing more is good for your overall health. Here are a few relaxation suggestions that can help ease TMJ pain and high blood pressure.
- Head and facial massages – Gentle massage is relaxing and can help soothe aching muscles.
- Steam showers and saunas – Steam can help to loosen and relax muscles.
- Take calming mental breaks throughout the day – Focus on breathing and clearing your mind. In as little as 10 minutes, stress and the tension it creates can be significantly reduced.
- Keep a stress journal – Note anytime you experience stress during the day, what caused it and how you handled it. This will help you identify stress triggers.
- Exercise – Being physically active is a proven way to reduce stress, boost feel-good endorphins and improve pain management.
- Change the way you think – Make a list of all the things you can control and the things you can’t control. This will give you a new perspective that helps you stay positive and find solutions to the things you can control.
- Free up your schedule – Having too many things on your to-do list and feeling like there’s never enough time often leads to stress. Avoid this by following the 1-3-5 Rule.
Getting TMJ problems diagnosed and treated will mean you have one less thing to stress about. If you live in the Houston area give MedCenter TMJ a call. Our dentists have years of experience helping patients better understand the cause of TMD and creating treatment plans that relieve TMJ pain. Less discomfort means less stress and steadier blood pressure!