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February 13, 2019

Millennials' stress is physically manifesting in this part of the body

Dentists are seeing an uptick in temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ

Wellness Stress
stress unsplash Tim Gouw/Unsplash

It’s no secret that younger generations are sleeping less than previous generations, and are experiencing a lot of stress to boot.

Of course, side effects of these two issues are a given, though they manifest differently in individuals. For some, heightened anxiety levels are manifesting themselves physically, in their jaws.

Temporomandibular joint disorder, which according to Well and Good is more commonly known as TMJ, TMJD, or TMD, is a problem with the hinge that connects your jaw to the temporal bones of your skull. This very hinge helps control two of human’s most valued functions — talking and eating.

RELATED READ: New study discovers a really romantic method of overcoming stress

TMJ can cause pain in your jaw joint and in the muscles that control jaw movement. According to Mayo Clinic, jaw pain may be caused by a number of factors, such as genetics, arthritis or jaw injury. Of course, some who experience jaw pain also tend to clench or grind their teeth (a.k.a bruxism), although many people clench or grind their teeth out of habit and never develop the disorders. Among the symptoms: pain in the jaw or tooth, headaches, facial pain and discomfort in the neck and shoulders.

According to Well and Good, some dentists are chalking up an increase in TMJ diagnoses to increased stress and decreased sleep, though there are many other factors that may be causing the jaw tension.

“We’re definitely seeing a lot of younger patients coming in with TMJ issues. I think a lot of it has to do with stress,” celebrity cosmetic dentist Victoria Veytsman told the health website. “People’s teeth are worn, they’re grinding, and they’re not sleeping well.”

In most cases, the soreness tied to TMJ disorders is temporary and can be relieved with a self-managed care plan or nonsurgical treatments. According to Mayo Clinic, these treatments include wearing a mouthguard, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxers, stretching and massage or acupuncture, among others.

Lee Tilghman, a Villanova grad turned full-time wellness blogger with more than 366,000 followers, noticed that she was carrying a lot of tension in her jaw and set out on a problem-solving journey. Along the way, she discovered the massage she demonstrates below to be helpful in providing relief.

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How to self-massage to relieve jaw tension and combat bruxism 💆🏼‍♀️
In today’s blog post (link in bio) I’m talking all about bruxism (or involuntarily teeth clenching during sleep). We hold so much tension and stress in our face, and simple relaxation techniques are often overlooked when it comes to combatting bruxism. In 2013, my dentist told me I was a nightly tooth-grinder and my only option was to buy a $450 mouth guard. I purchased it, but it didn’t work. This year, I decided to get to the ROOT problem of my jaw clenching. Head to the blog to learn more about my bruxism journey and more holistic approaches to taking care of bruxism. 👉🏻To self massage: Do the following massage SLOWLY and INTENTIONALLY. It is most effective if you do this for 5 minutes each night before bed. No oils or serums needed, just clean hands! Starting at your forehead, press into the bones and move up the skull. Then move to cheeks, nose, then lower jaw and up around the temples. Use your knuckles to help relieve any tightness or soreness. Put your index finger inside your mouth to press into your gums. Take a deep breath. Loosen the knots in your cheeks with your index finger and thumbs. Get out the kinks. Feel the difference in your face and jaw, and get ready for a good night’s sleep. 🌙 #leefromamerica

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