Do you suffer from chronic pain? Do you also experience anxiety and panic attacks? If so, your chronic pain may be linked to a TMJ disorder.

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a small joint that connects the jawbone with the skull. It’s important for chewing and biting but it can become inflamed or damaged due to many reasons including stress, age, or poor dental hygiene. When this happens, TMJ disorder occurs which then leads to more anxiety because of the chronic pain caused by this condition. This blog post will tell you how TMJ disorder can lead to increased levels of anxiety, how anxiety can cause TMJ disorder, as well as what treatment options are available if you have both disorders.


Many people suffering from orofacial pain, including TMJ, would agree that the constant pain can lead to anxiety and affect day to day functions.  Pain is your body’s way of letting you know something is wrong and chronic pain in your mouth, jaw, face, head, neck, and shoulders should never be ignored.


In addition to this disorder leading to increased anxiety, if you are already struggling with anxiety, this may cause an onset of TMJ disorders.  With increased anxiety you may find yourself grinding your teeth, keeping your jaw in a clenched position, or straining frequently. Your sleep can also be affected, as well as cause other muscle problems. All of these things can cause an issue with the temporomandibular joint and produce pain and discomfort.


If you are experiencing any of these symptoms of TMJ disorder, you should seek help and treatment.  Dr. Brandon Snell, DMD, is experienced with diagnosing and treating these disorders to help you overcome them.  The first step in treatment is a consultation with Dr. Snell.  If you are experiencing symptoms in conjunction with high levels of stress or anxiety, be sure to mention these things to your doctor.  


While it is possible to obtain treatment for TMJ and see significant improvements, you should also take actions to reduce stress where possible.  Here are just a few tips for handling anxiety:


  • Exercise daily and incorporate a well-balanced diet
  • Get enough sleep
  • Learn what triggers your anxiety and take steps to alleviate it
  • Practice relaxation techniques (such as yoga or deep breathing)


You should see a doctor if you notice that your anxiety is interfering with your daily living or depression is suspected.  Contact a doctor immediately if you notice suicidal thoughts or are having a panic attack.