Although thousands of people suffer from temporomandibular disorders (TMDs), many of them don’t understand the triggers that can make their symptoms worse. As a result, they may be inadvertently aggravating pain and discomfort, creating a never-ending cycle of TMD symptoms without relief.
It’s commonly assumed that tooth grinding, or bruxism, is the primary trigger for TMD. While this is definitely one of the factors we need to examine, there are many other less obvious triggers for TMD that you may not have considered. Being aware of these potential aggravators will empower you to avoid things that could make your TMD worse.
Do you sit at a desk most of the day? If so, the ergonomics of your workstation should be examined as a possible TMD trigger. Incorrect head, neck, and back placement can cause problems in the muscles throughout your body, leading up to your jaw. The increased tension can cause you to clench and grind, and may also result in more headaches and pain. Some workplaces offer an ergonomic evaluation for employees; if you have access to this service, take advantage of it! Otherwise, do your best to ensure your back, neck, and shoulders are aligned and relaxed while you work.
In addition, if you experience high levels of stress due to your job, your jaw may be suffering. Stress aggravates pain, and can create muscle tension as well. Consider trying stress management exercises and talking with a health professional if your stress levels are chronic and high.
Accidents and Injuries
If you’ve been in a car accident — even a minor one — you may be dealing with misaligned muscles and joints as a result. This can lead to a worsening of TMD symptoms and more grinding in some people. The neck and back muscles are an integral part of your body’s musculoskeletal system, and that includes your facial muscles and jaw joint. Similarly, a hard fall or blow to the jaw could disrupt your joint’s natural movement, resulting in new or worsening TMD symptoms.
If you suffer from seasonal allergies, it’s not just your nose that could be feeling miserable. Chronic congestion and the overactive response of your immune system can actually make your TMD worse. Headaches and earaches are common with allergies and nasal congestion, and they can be compounded with the pain of TMD. Some people mistake the pain of TMD for a “simple” sinus headache or ear pain as a result of allergies, when in fact, their allergies may be triggering TMD symptoms. This can be a frustrating cycle for people who try to treat the issue with allergy medications and decongestants, only to find they can’t get relief.
TMD’s Mysterious Triggers
If you’re struggling with TMD symptoms and don’t know what could be making them worse, seek the help of a TMD professional who is trained in treating TMD. At MedCenter TMJ, we provide a multi-faceted approach to treating TMD to identify potential triggers and treat you as an individual. Contact MedCenter TMJ today to schedule your appointment!