TMJ Contributes to Distress and Other Biopsychosocial Problems

Boutique Dentistry for Nashville, Tennessee

Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ or TMD) aren’t just a jaw dysfunction. They can have serious impact on your entire body. And your mind. As a result, it’s not surprising that a new study showed that people who have TMJ can experience psychological distress.

It’s also not surprising that people whose symptoms resolved, saw an improvement in their psychological state as well. Although TMJ symptoms can resolve on their own, if they don’t, treatment can help not only with the immediate symptoms, but also with the secondary symptoms related to the condition. Nashville, TN expert TMJ dentist Dr. Kent E. White regularly helps people find relief from the primary and secondary symptoms of TMJ.

Group of girlfriends laughing at each other jokes

Continuing Insight from OPPERA

We have talked a little bit about OPPERA (Orofacial Pain: Prospective Evaluation and Risk Assessment) in the context of looking at the influence of genetics on TMJ. The project initially started in 2006, but observation of many of the original 3400 subjects continues to this day.

The new insight comes as a result of more than 7 years of follow-up looking at hundreds of people both with and without TMJ at the beginning of the observation period.

This study looked at 189 people with TMJ at the beginning of the study as well as 505 people who didn’t have TMJ at the beginning of the study. They conducted follow-up with these subjects an average of 7.6 years later. Over this time, 83 of the people who initially didn’t have TMJ developed the condition (16.4%).

Researchers found that people with TMJ tended to have more psychological distress than those without the condition. As people developed the physical symptoms of TMJ, they also tended to develop the psychological symptoms as well. For people who saw their physical TMJ symptoms improve, their psychological symptoms improved as well.

However, even if people’s physical symptoms didn’t improve, their psychological ones did, albeit not nearly as much. This caused researchers to conclude that people can adapt to the symptoms of TMJ over time, even if imperfectly.

Why Adapt If You Don’t Have to?

If you are suffering with TMJ, you don’t need to be told about the psychological burden that comes with the physical suffering and dysfunction. And while you may have learned to live with your condition, you also understand what an imperfect solution that is. You still suffer, and it’s still a burden on your daily life.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Neuromuscular dentistry offers solutions that can reduce or even eliminate your TMJ symptoms, and, along with them, the psychological side effects of the condition. And the good news is that most of these solutions are noninvasive and reversible.

TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) is a kind of electric massage that relaxes your jaw muscles. This can relieve jaw pain and other muscle-related symptoms. For many people, this is sufficient treatment for TMJ.

Other people may benefit from the use of an oral splint, which helps hold the jaw in a relaxing position to reduce muscle tension and related symptoms. If that works, we can talk about long-term alternatives to the splint.

Let Us Help

TMJ can be a difficult condition to live with, not the least because it can seem impossible to get effective treatment. But effective treatment does exist. If you are looking for TMJ treatment in Nashville, TN, please call (615) 383-6787 today for an appointment at the Center for Advanced Dentistry.