TMJ can negatively influence a career, or even make it hard to get a job in the first place. When people are in pain, even seemingly simple tasks can seem like a mountain to accomplish. Pain costs an estimated $294 billion annually in lost workdays, medical costs, and other benefit costs. Having constant pain flare-ups can be discouraging, and make it difficult to find the motivation to perform well in your job or at an interview. Even your focus can be negatively impacted by jaw pain and related symptoms such as tinnitus, migraines, and muscle stiffness if left untreated.

Pain Slows You Down

Young man with jaw painThe Institute of Medicine of The National Academies estimates that 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain conditions. Pain can decrease a person’s ability to concentrate, disrupt sleep, and negatively affect their overall satisfaction with life. People who have conditions like TMJ may experience decreased job performance because their symptoms disrupt their concentration and sleep. When a person can’t focus at an interview, it shows, and remembering important details may be difficult. Not only does chronic pain pose a problem for sleep and focus, but it can also impact our self-confidence.

Many people with any type of chronic pain feel like the pain is a sign of weakness. In many cases, their pain limits their ability to do the basic things that everyone else can. Some people can even feel like the pain is in control of their lives, directing everything  from what they can eat to what kind of job they can have. When people do not feel in control of their lives, confidence suffers. In interviews, a lack of confidence may cause a person to only put half of their usual effort into the interview, or may make them avoid the interview process all together. For people who already have steady jobs, lost confidence and lowered concentration levels can lead to lower job performance and decreased desire to complete tasks.

Some Professions Suffer More Directly Than Others

Whether you are searching for a job or keeping your current one, your pain may directly impact your ability to perform certain aspects of many jobs. When you have difficulty opening your jaw all the way without radiating pain, many performing arts, athletics, and social jobs are difficult. Even jobs that do not often require much movement of your jaw can be hard to focus on when your jaw muscles hurt or your ears are ringing from TMJ-related tinnitus. When performing basic functions of a job causes a person pain, it is difficult to want to complete those parts of the job. In some cases, it may be necessary to stop doing those aspects of the job to accommodate the pain and avoid further injury.

Giving up certain aspects of a job or –in more severe cases— full-time employment can be difficult for many people. A majority of Americans measure their self-worth based on their own level of usefulness and success in their chosen career. Preventing pain by giving up certain job aspects can make people feel weak because they are no longer achieving what they consider to be their full potential. People experiencing this loss are more prone to depression and reduced job performance due to low self-esteem compared to people who are able to perform all aspects of their job. In order to avoid looking weak, some people try to tolerate or ignore their pain and continue performing their regular job functions without seeking treatment. Doing so can lead to heightened pain levels and even lower job performance.

Don’t let TMJ pain slow you down. To learn more about the non-surgical treatment options available, please call (303) 691-0267 for an appointment with a Denver dentist at the TMJ Therapy & Sleep Center of Colorado.