From the ages of, oh, 17-24, my jaw was a complete piece of crap. It clicked, it popped, it hurt to open, and damn it hurt to close. Not all the time, of course. It came in waves, and some days would be better than others.
TMJ disorder (often just called TMJ) is a problem with the temporomandibular joint, a very complex place where the jaw bone is connected to the head bone. This is a floaty joint, meant to come a bit out of socket as you open wide, move your jaw side to side, forward and back, etc. As you may have noticed, there’s a disc involved, a little piece of cartilage just like the ones between your vertebrae. Some of you will notice it pop in and out of place, and others will have had a very painful experience with this. Sorry about all that.
Anxiety was definitely involved in my case, no doubt about it. I had several fun, overlapping anxiety disorders that made sure that my jaw got no rest while I slept, and that I felt like crap by the time I needed to wake up. This is a phenomenon known as sleep bruxism, otherwise known as grinding the shit out of your teeth at night. Ever wake up with a sore jaw or wiggly teeth? Have a problem with receding gums? Get frequent headaches in your temples? You’re a prime candidate.