Hey @ChrisRMerkle, first off welcome! It great to see this community growing. I really appreciate your post and the discussion that’s about to ensue. It’s an interesting correlation and I am excited to explore it.
So, at first glance, TMDs as a causal or contributing factor to ADHD isn’t clear to me. It is most widely understood, that ADHD is the result of insufficient neurotransmitters, like norepinephrine and dopamine, minimizing (or slowing down) communication between neurons specifically in the frontal lobe where attention, motivation, decision-making, time perception, memory, language, problem solving, executive function, etc… are handled. This insufficiency of neurotransmitters is considered to be a genetic issue/defect (?), and therefore actual ADHD isn’t caused by an illness, video games, diets, sleep apnea, or poor parenting.
Note that I say “actual ADHD”. There are definitely things that occur that can create temporary or even long term ADHD-like behavior. For example- certain medicines or illnesses can cause brain fog, lethargy, decrease motivation, etc. For the person without… I don’t know if this is an actual term, but I’m using it today… “congenital” ADHD- who wasn’t born with this genetically derived issue- these situations can feel and act, just like ADHD. However, the cause for the slowness in the frontal lobe is not the same and often is rectified when one gets healthy or the issue is removed. Two examples- When I get a migraine, even before the pain occurs, I get brain-fog. Common for Migrainers. I can’t think, can’t remember what I am doing (“why am I in this room again?”), my word finding sucks and I can’t focus at all. Some of this feels like ADHD- which of course, makes my actual ADHD coping all the worse. Sooo…I was prescribed Topamax for a while as a migraine preventative. OMG, I learned why it’s lovingly nick-named “dope-amax”. Take all those brain-fog issues, multiply them by 10 and add in: the inability to perform basic order of operations (like closing the refrigerator door when I am done, or turning off the water in the sink so that it doesn’t flood, or forgetting to lock or even close the front door when leaving the house. #TrueStories 1, 2, & 3 :), fatigue, physical (body) depression, zero motivation, extreme forgetfulness (“wait you were actually in this room 5 minutes ago WITH me and we had a whole conversation about making dinner and I volunteered? Yeah…I have absolutely no recollection of that”. #TrueStory 4 ), basic overall stupidity, etc. In both examples, the effects were temporary and the result of something else affecting the frontal lobe. Additionally, we know and understand that certain illnesses, diseases, or traumas can create long-term or permanent damage that looks and acts like ADHD. But if it’s not a neurotransmitter problem, by our current understanding, it’s not actually ADHD and therefore, and most importantly, not necessarily alleviated by the same meds or coping mechanisms. (Note that we haven’t even begun to discuss video games, poor parenting, diet, or sleep apnea ).
What I am thinking is that if you have ADHD, it’s possible that your TMJ disorder may exacerbate your symptoms like migraines do for me. And, it’s possible that in others, without ADHD, when they are in pain, they present with ADHD-like behaviors. As @HarleyKyn pointed out, ADHD or not, pain (and especially chronic pain) makes it hard to think and function.
I know this has gotten long, but, if you can bear with me, I still have one more idea I’d like to explore (because of an insanely busy work day, I took a booster of my meds this afternoon and apparently it’s still working. Although… notice I’m not actually on-task. )
Ok, here goes… I also have a TMJ disorder (TMD). It has come and gone over the years but I have noticed that during times of extreme stress, when my ADHD is out of control and I’m completely drowning, that in those dark times when the stress seems to be my shadow, the TMD re-surfaces to add to my load. While your question seems to indicate a causal relationship from TMD to ADHD, I wonder if it isn’t the other way around, that is to say, that the stress and anxiety of ADHD may cause TMJ disorders. Stress and anxiety are often carried in our bodies as much as in our minds. The clenched jaw, the grinding teeth, the popping of the jaw, the over-snacking on hard foods or gum (oh how I miss gum ) are some of the causes for the TMDs. Furthermore, it can then be surmised that, it is likely a great many Brains have these disorders because of their ADHD.
If one has a long history of TMD, but their ADHD history seems unclear, it might be worth exploring whether or not this chronic pain is actually causing their ADHD-like behaviors. The good news is, while ADHD isn’t curable (yet ), ADHD-like behaviors may be curable when the actual offending diagnosis is treated or removed.
Thanks for the exploration and discussion. In a very quick attempt to research your question, I did find this one article that has interesting info on the correlation between TMDs and ADHD. https://dentalwellnessgroup.com/relationship-between-tmj-disorder-and-adhd/
I am really, REALLY curious to see if TMDs are common among the ADHD community. Can we create polls on this site? This would be an interesting one.
Best of luck, many prayers and lots of blessings to ya!
Oh, Disclaimer #1: I am also, “not a doctor” and we could find out years from now that all this stuff that is “commonly understood” about ADHD is hogwash. Who knows, it seems Medicine is always contradicting itself but hopefully getting closer to the truth each time.
Disclaimer #2: I am not an ADHD elitist. I know I kept distinguishing between people with “actual ADHD” and “ADHD-like behaivors”, but this is only to clarify that when exploring diagnoses there are differences and I would hate for someone to decide they are ADHD and suffer for years with meds, ADHD coping mechanisms, or behavioral modifications not working for them, when in actuality, they had something like sleep apnea and the years of less than ideal oxygen to the brain caused them to present like ADHD. This site is a great place for anyone who is trying to figure it out, to explore, to understand, to ask questions, to seek advice (not medical though, we are not doctors!), and to relate and I, for one, welcome them all to our cozy little place of crazy. Thankfully, this is a group full of kind and empathetic Brains AND Hearts, happy to help and encourage
Uhoh, I need to get back to work… and… we need a :squirrell: emoji!