TMJ Pain, Headaches And Jaw pain
What is TMJ?
The letters TMJ are short for of ‘temporo-mandibular joint’, which is the joint connecting your lower jaw and your skull. The movement in this joint lets you open and close your mouth and chew from side to side.
What kind of problems might I have?
If your teeth don’t fit together properly, you can have problems not only in your teeth themselves, but also the gums, the temporo-mandibular joint or the muscles that move your jaw. These problems are called ‘occlusal’ problems.
How are occlusal problems treated?
Depending on the problems you are having, it can be possible to spot the signs of an occlusal problem. Various muscles may be sore when tested, or the broken and worn areas of your teeth will show you are grinding your teeth – a common sign of an incorrect bite.
If we suspect that your problems are due to an incorrect bite, we may help to diagnose the problem by supplying a temporary soft night guard or hard plastic appliance that fits over your upper or lower teeth.
This appliance needs to be measured and fitted very accurately so that when you bite on it, all your teeth meet at exactly the same time in a position where your muscles are relaxed.
You may have to wear this all the time or, just at night. If the appliance relieves your symptoms then your bite may need to be corrected permanently.
Bruxism – grinding of teeth
Do you suffer from headaches, jaw ache, chipped teeth…
Bruxism is the grinding of teeth and clenching of the jaw that causes tooth wear, breakages, temporomandibular joint disorders (pain and limited movement of the jaw joint), migraines and headaches. Bruxism is most common in adults over 25 years old however children can also be affected. Most people grind and/or clench their teeth occasionally; the symptoms usually increase during stressful periods.
Bruxism sufferers are affected in many ways, some experience short term side effects, whilst others can be subject to more long-term issues. These individuals will often require a dentist’s intervention.
Many symptoms are less likely to be dental related; often they are left untreated for many years or people may seek advice from their GP not realising it is a dental problem.
Short-term effects of bruxism
- Headaches and migraines – People who clench and grind their teeth are 3 times more likely to suffer with regular headaches or migraines
- Facial myalgia (aching jaw & facial muscles) – Often diagnosed as Atypical Facial Pain
- Ear ache
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Sinus pain
- Stiff neck and shoulders
- Limited mouth opening
- Poor sleep quality
- Sleep disturbance of bed partner due to noise
- Tooth mobility and tooth loss
- Fractured tooth cusps and broken fillings
- Receding and inflamed gums
- Tongue scalloping/cheek ridging
- Sensitive teeth/tooth ache
Long-term effects of bruxism
- Prolonged untreated migraines
- Excessive facial muscle tone
- Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (sometimes called TMJD or just TMJ)
- Clicking or popping jaw joint
- Tooth wear and tooth loss
Your teeth should last you a lifetime and not wear down however bruxism is a destructive condition. Normal chewing and eating does not cause wear or damage to your teeth. If you suffer from bruxism you are putting your teeth and gums under massive amounts of pressure.
During sleep there is no feedback mechanism to tell your brain that your teeth are hurting because of too much pressure, hence we can put up to 40 times the amount of pressure on our teeth whilst we sleep.
The most common sign of bruxism is shortened front teeth (incisal wear), in more severe cases we see signs such as cracks in enamel, abfractions (enamel loss at gum level), gum recession, broken cusps of molar teeth and damage to restorations (crowns & bridges).
There are many ways to manage bruxism, the most common treatment is with occlusal splints (dental appliances). Occlusal splints are generally designed to act as a mechanical separation of the teeth and may be as simple as a soft mouthguard. Wearing an occlusal splint can help alleviate your symptoms as well as protecting your teeth from damage.
If your teeth have become worn or damaged on the edges they can be restored to their former glory.
We use bonding techniques to adhere white filling material to the teeth, giving them back their natural shape, length and overall appearance, this can also help with bite and function of your teeth.
No need for anaesthetic, so you don’t leave with that numb feeling. We simply roughen the tooth surface before starting the bonding process and no more of your tooth is removed prior to building them back up, meaning the process is almost completely reversible.
If you are concerned about clenching, grinding or worn teeth FREE consultations are available to all.