Stress may cause oral & maxillofacial problems


[ MONDAY, MARCH 18, 2002  12:19:49 AM ]

Living with high levels of stress is fast becoming a way of life. Many of us are hardly aware that our body defences are constantly breaking down as it is unable to counter the damage being done by the stress and strain we undergo regularly.

In today’s hyper-active world one feels totally drained out at the end of a long days work. For a average office going individual, life begins at about 7am in the morning and can extend beyond the normal eight to nine working hours.

If you are living such a lifestyle it would not be difficult to recall how many times you have had attacks of pain around the forehead & temple, or the lower jaw and sometimes even the around the neck muscles. This is typical of a tension headache.

These may be brought on by a multitude of predisposing factors, the most common of them being; increased levels of emotional stress, disturbed or altered sleep patterns & abnormal Para-functional habits such as subconscious grinding of teeth brought on again by a nervous temperament that cannot handle strain.

Though most of have accepted these aches as pains as part of their life, they should not be ignored. One must either seek medical advice from either an orthopaedic or a dental surgeon. It has been seen that clinical prognosis in such cases usually suspect either a cervical disorder or a probable tooth decay causing the jaw aches.

But experts are now realising that these disorders have their origin in the high stress levels which manifests itself in aches and pains in muscles of the jaw & cervical region. Typical symptoms to watch out for are inability to open the mouth fully or pain on opening the mouth wide, clicking or popping noises heard in the ear on opening & closing the mouth.

Symptoms may also include stiffness in the neck & shoulder muscles or pain in the Upper or Lower teeth.

A detailed history & a careful examination would help to arrive at a correct diagnosis. Patients though need a thorough counselling and should be taught to understand their problem and it is causative factors.

If an acute stage is encountered a soft diet, restricted use of the jaw, anti-inflammatory analgesics (e.g. Ibuprofen), Warm moist fomentation do help for temporary relief. But medical advice should be sought,above all a multitude of relaxation technique should be undertaken to counter the emotional stress.

Pain in the head and neck that result from stress is very commonly misunderstood and needs to be addressed with a lot more understanding than it is today.

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