While there are many factors that contribute to TMJ, two of the most common are actually preventable: stress and posture.
Your jaw is designed like a mechanical hinge. “The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) combines a hinge action with sliding motions,” MayoClinic explains. “The parts of the bones that interact in the joint are covered with cartilage and are separated by a small shock-absorbing disk, which normally keeps the movement smooth.” Stress tends to cause people to clench their jaw, which erodes that joint, causing pain and more clenching/grinding. In fact, 50-70% of TMJ sufferers reporting a high stress event within the 6 months prior to their diagnosis with TMJ.
Another factor that can cause or aggravate TMJ is poor posture. Because all of our bones are connected to one another, slouching, sitting for long periods of time, and looking down (at phone or tablet screens) can lead to TMJ. Our bones get in the habit of “sitting” in that position, causing other bones and joints (like the TMJ) to alter their usual alignment. Seeing a physician about your poor posture is a good idea if you are experiencing symptoms of TMJ.
You don’t have to continue suffering through your TMJ. There are typically reasonable explanations behind it, you just have to figure out what they are. If you are experiencing issues with sleep, get help today!