One of the most widespread impacts of the pandemic has been a general increase in everyone’s stress levels. Many of the things that used to be simple and straightforward have become much more complicated. Should you wear a mask or not? Should you even go? How big should your social bubble be? Then, no matter which decision you make, it seems that there will be a layer of politics you have to deal with from friends and family about the choice you made. Plus, there’s the time spent worrying about those you know who have gotten sick or are at high risk, and you worry they might get sick. It’s a lot of stress, and it’s been going on every day for more than two years now.
Some people have been better at finding ways to deal with stress during the pandemic than others. For many people, the stress builds up and manifests in muscle tension. Often, this muscle tension turns into jaw clenching and grinding. This can not only damage your teeth, leading to an increased need for restorative dentistry, but it can also cause muscle tension and soreness, joint damage, and joint displacement.
Put together, these effects can turn into temporomandibular joint disorders (called TMJ or TMD). This constellation of joint disorders can cause numerous symptoms related to dysfunction. Jaw pain is one of the most common, but you might also experience:
- Neck pain
- Jaw popping and clicking
- Irregular or limited jaw motion
- A bite that feels off
- Ringing in your ears
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Ear fullness
As well as many other symptoms. Sometimes jaw pain is a warning sign, and we might be able to head off the condition by intervening now. Other times, you might have developed other symptoms. Fortunately, you could see these symptoms resolve over a few weeks or months with treatment. Proper treatment can lead to long-term, even permanent, relief.