Your TMJ jaw pain: Could it be caused by the holiday season?

Your TMJ jaw pain: Could it be caused by the holiday season?

There is nothing worse than experiencing intense TMJ jaw pain, neck pain, or a full-blown headache when you’re busy. Unfortunately, for patients with TMJ disorder, busy times tend to spell increased pain or discomfort. We have found that many of our TMJ patients experience more pain during the holiday season.

The stress of the season definitely contributes to the jaw strain and pain that our patients experience. Why does stress affect the jaw? And, is there anything you or Dr. Tom Meyer (Des Plaines dentist) can do to treat or prevent the pain from getting in the way of your holiday plans?

How stress affects the jaw, joints and muscles of the face and neck

According to Colgate, studies have shown that twenty to thirty percent of the population experiences TMJ neck pain, jaw pain, headache, and even a TMJ migraine. Women are three times as likely to experience TMJ pain than men. The statistics are staggering – that means over 97.5 million people regularly suffer with debilitating pain.

TMJ disorder symptoms are caused by:

  • Malocclusion (a bite that is off; teeth that don’t fit together ideally).
  • Muscle tension in the muscles of the face, neck, and shoulders.
  • Trauma or injury to the jaw joint or any of the muscles of the head, neck, and shoulders.
  • Bruxism (grinding of the teeth), which usually done the most during sleep.
  • Arthritis or tumors of the jaw joint.

Each of these circumstances strains the muscles, which leads to tension and pain. Some people experience so much pain that they can’t eat, sleep, or fully open their mouth. Even the slightest touch can cause muscle spasms and even worse pain. It is a horrible condition to deal with, which is why a TMJ specialist like Dr. Meyer will do a TMJ examination at each annual exam appointment. We do this regularly because we believe that the sooner there is a diagnosis, the sooner our patients will be pain-free.

Why the season can cause TMJ jaw pain, TMJ migraines and headaches

For many people, the holiday season is a beautiful time of year, full of love and memorable experiences. However, most people will agree with us that there is a lot of stress during this time of year. Why?

  • Shopping: This is probably the number one cause of stress during the season. People are stressed because they want to buy the perfect gift, which can be hard to do in some cases. They’re also stressed out because of the cost of the gifts, decorations, food, etc. And, they also have to deal with other shoppers who are also just as stressed out as they are.
  • Putting Up Decorations: You may not think that putting up decorations would be stressful, but we’ve found that it definitely can be. According to Psychology Today, many of us have this idealistic attitude toward the season. We expect it to feel and look like a Norman Rockwell painting; and, unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.
  • Hosting Parties: Being a host or hostess any time of the year can be exciting and fun, but stressful. This is especially the case during the holidays. Again, we have certain expectations that typically put us into “perfection mode” and life simply isn’t perfect. And then we have jaw pain and headaches as a result.
  • Eating the Wrong Foods: During this time of year, there seems to be food everywhere. Sweet, chewy foods seem to be particularly abundant. Eating anything chewy or hard can cause a lot of strain on the jaw joint and muscles. The result is jaw strain and pain.

We believe… that there are easy ways to reduce stress this holiday season

Ways to avoid more pain for TMJ patients this holiday seasonWith stress coming at us from every direction during this time of year, we have found that a lot of people feel helpless when it comes to their TMJ neck pain and jaw pain.

Fortunately, there are simple things that can be done to reduce stress and prevent discomfort. Here are some simple yet effective ways to avoid additional pain.

  • Get sufficient rest: Rest is essential. The less restful sleep you have, the more stressed you will feel. We know there is so much to do during this time of year, but we highly recommend doing all you can to ensure that you get seven to eight hours of restful sleep each night.
  • Drink plenty of water: According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, dehydration causes muscle damage. The more dehydrated you are, the more damage there is and the more tenderness and pain you will experience.
  • Shop online: This is one of the best ways to beat stress, road rage, and unhappy interactions with other shoppers. Plus, you might find some amazing deals!
  • Watch what you eat: Make sure to avoid chewy, sticky, hard foods. Instead, focus more on nutrient dense options to stay healthy and energized. Green vegetables in particular are helpful because they have a lot of anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Take time to take a deep breath: Take five or ten minutes throughout the day to step away from your job, shopping, decorating, and cooking, and just breathe. It will help calm you, relax your muscles, and give you perspective about what really matters this season.


A pain-free holiday season: It really is possible!

While stress may be higher during the holiday season, we want to assure you that there is something you can do to prevent pain. Our patients who have put into practice the stress-reduction recommendations or proceed with TMJ jaw pain treatment options have found relief. And, you can too. Of this we are confident. If you would like more information about how Dr. Tom Meyer can help you with TMJ pain, contact us today.

TMJ Dentist Des Plaines and Mount Prospect IL

Have you been experiencing head, neck, or jaw pain recently? If so, you may have TMJ disorder. We invite you to read more about this condition and the importance of getting a diagnosis and treatment plan as soon as possible.

Arlington Heights Jaw Joint Problems

Arlington Heights Jaw Joint Problems


We all know that our joints can cause tremendous pain and interfere with our daily lives when they do. When we think of joints, we usually think of knees, shoulders and knuckles as the real problem causers. The joints that are responsible for much of the pain people feel are often overlooked: the jaw joints.

Headaches, neck pain, back pain and even vision and hearing problems can be caused by jaw joint problems and a disorder called TMJ; temporomandibular joint disorder. Headaches are a primary symptom of TMJ disorder, but there are other symptoms that may be surprising.

1. Headaches

The jaw joints are located in the middle of your head behind each ear, and your entire head receives sensations from a complex cluster of nerves. TMJ pain may be in the jaws themselves, but it often travels to the head and throughout the face due to pain signals crossing. The location of the jaw joints makes pain anywhere in the upper body a possibility when the nerves begin to signal jaw pain.

2. Back pain

Pain in the head and neck, particularly when it is chronic, can harm your posture. This happens because when you are in pain you tend to sleep, stand and sit the wrong way in a constant effort to be more comfortable. The effect this has on your posture can cause more pain, which can lead to a sore back.

3. Eye pain and vision problems

The trigeminal nerve, the primary nerve that supplies sensation to the face, has three branches. Two pertain to the jaws, and one pertains to the eyes. This is how eye pain and even vision problems like floaters can be caused by trouble with the jaw joints.

While some eye problems can be directly caused by problems with the eyes themselves, symptoms in the eyes can sometimes be caused by TMJ. Some of these symptoms include pain or pressure behind the eyes, blurry vision, floaters and sensitivity to light.

Light sensitivity is also associated with migraine headaches, which in turn can be confused with headaches caused by jaw joint problems.

4. Earaches

The jaws and ears are close together, and sometimes earaches and jaw pain can overlap. Inflamed tissue near the jaws and ears can cause the ears to become congested and result in hearing issues like muffled hearing or ringing in the ears.

You may also hear popping sounds that are coming from your jaws when you chew, yawn, laugh or even talk.

Dental treatment can help top resolve jaw joint problems

TMJ treatment can include dental procedures to align the teeth and ease pressure on the jaws.

  • Non-permanent treatment can be achieved with a specially fitted mouthpiece that you can wear at night to position your jaws and ease stress.
  • Permanent TMJ treatments to help keep your bite in its optimal alignment include orthodontics, and dental restorations like dental implants or dental bonding.

Learn more

We believe a balanced bite can relieve TMJ pain. If you have TMJ symptoms like headaches, facial pain, hearing or vision problems, neck pain or back pain and have not found a solution, call your Arlington Heights dentist for a consultation to discuss TMJ and see if jaw joint problems may be the source of your problem.


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