Pain, Pain Go Away, Get Treatment For Your TMJ
- March 16, 2017
Everyone gets headaches from time to time, but if you are having frequent headaches (including migraines), it may be time to talk to … our dentist?
Yes, that’s right. Dr. Doug Forbes of Total Dental Care of South Carolina might have the treatment you need to reduce the intensity and frequency of your headaches.
To explain why, first we need to explain how your jaw could be the source of your problem. This can lead to a TMJ disorder, which can cause many other issues in addition to your headaches.
We’ll discuss that in greater detail below.
What Is A TMJ Disorder?
The National Institutes of Health define a TMJ disorder as a condition that causes “pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint and the muscles that control jaw movement.”
These conditions can affect anyone, but women are at a higher risk for TMJ problems than men.
The “TMJ” in TMJ disorder is an abbreviation for temporomandibular joint. This is a long word for each of the ball-and-socket joints that allow you to open and close your mouth … usually.
What Can Cause TMJ Disorders?
This is where things get a little tricky. TMJ problems can develop from a single cause or from multiple causes.
Arthritis can affect your jaw joints just like it affects the other joints of your body.
Injuries can impact the alignment and function of your jaw as well.
Likewise, illnesses can affect the use of your jaw as well.
And last, but certainly not least, clenching or grinding your teeth together can play a role in your TMJ issues, too.
This last cause, in particular, is where our team at Total Dental Care of South Carolina may be able to help.
How Teeth Grinding Can Lead To A TMJ Disorder
Put your fingers just below your ears. Now open and close your mouth. You will probably be able to feel your TMJ moving. (This will be worth remembering a little later when we discuss TMJ symptoms.)
Millions of people clench and grind their teeth. This is not good for your dental health, as it can wear down the enamel on your teeth and leave them more vulnerable to the bacteria that cause tooth decay.
Aside from that, clenching and grinding your teeth puts added stress on your jaw and the muscles around it.
To be specific, researchers have documented people creating 500 pounds of pressure when grinding their teeth, and many teeth grinding do it unknowingly while they are asleep.
To put that in perspective, the average person has a bite force of around 200 to 250 pounds. By grinding your teeth, you may be putting twice the strain on your jaw and facial muscles.
Headaches & Other TMJ Disorder Symptoms
Frequent headaches are a common complaint among people with TMJ problems. This makes sense given the location of your jaw.
Unfortunately, headaches can be caused by a lot of different things, so headaches alone may or may not indicate a TMJ issue.
For better or worse, TMJ disorders also cause a number of other symptoms. If you are having any of these in addition to your headaches, that could suggest that TMJ treatment may be helpful. Here are things to watch for:
▪︎ Jaw pain during or after eating
▪︎ Facial soreness or tenderness
▪︎ Problems opening or closing your mouth completely
▪︎ Stiffness in your jaw
▪︎ Frequent earaches
▪︎ Neck, shoulder, and upper back pains
If you notice this issues more often in the morning, that could suggest that night-time teeth grinding is a problem.
How Our Dentist Can Help With TMJ Disorders?
We can create a custom-fitted mouthguard for you to wear while you sleep. This night guard does two things that can alleviate the problems of teeth grinding.
First, the mouthguard creates a barrier between your top and bottom teeth. This prevents them from touching, so you can’t grind them together.
Second, if you do clench your teeth, the night guard helps to absorb some of that pressure so less of it is affects your jaw.
As you become more accustomed to wearing it, your headaches, jaw pains, and other symptoms should occur less often.
Let Us Help You
We never want our patients to be in pain, and if we can do something that will alleviate your pain, that’s what we want to do.
If you live in or near Columbia, SC, call our dentist office at 803-272-4162 or contact us online to schedule a consultation about TMJ treatment.