The problem probably started small. Your jaw felt sore one day, but the pain went away so you didn’t worry about it. Then you started waking up with headaches a couple times a week. You started noticing neck and shoulder pains.
Now, you find you are reaching for the headache medicine before your morning shower, and your jaw feels sore after many meals. What could be the problem?
You might have a TMJ disorder.
What is the solution to this problem? Go to Holladay Dental Studio.
You may be wondering how a general dentistry practice can fix you headaches, but we will be happy to show you what our dentist office can do, just as we have done for patients in Holladay, Salt Lake City, and anywhere in between.
The Problem Is In Your Jaw
You may have heard someone complain that they have a TMJ disorder, also known as a TMD.
TMJ is short for temporomandibular joint. This is the ball-and-socket joint that connects your jaw to the rest of your skull. It’s what allows you to open your mouth to speak and to bite and chew your food.
You can feel your TMJ moving by placing your fingers near your ears and opening and closing your mouth.
If you have a problem with this joint, it can cause a variety of problem. Some of the symptoms of TMJ disorders are:
- Pain or tenderness in your jaw
- Pain in your jaw while you are eating or after you finish eating
- Headaches, including migraines
- Facial pain
- Neck pain
- Shoulder or upper back pain
- A clicking or popping sound when you open and close our mouth
- Limited range of motion in your jaw
- Temporary inability to open or close your mouth
Some people will only experience one of these symptoms. Other people will experience multiple symptoms at different times. In any case, you should seek help to determine if you have a TMJ problem if you are having frequent symptoms.
Why You May Have A TMD
We’ve already seen that TMJ problems can affect you in a variety of ways.
Well, you may have TMD for a number of reasons or a combination of reasons. Some of the causes of TMJ disorders are:
◼︎ Injuries to your face or jaw
◼︎ Infections or diseases
◼︎ Grinding or clenching your teeth
You may be thinking that you don’t grind your teeth together, but many people do this without realizing it.
Some people clench their teeth unconsciously in response to stress in their lives. And stress can come from anywhere — at work, at home, at school. Other people grind their teeth together during their sleep, which may explain why you have frequent headaches in the morning.
As a quick aside, we examine your teeth when you come for routine cleanings as part of our general dentistry practice. One thing that we look for is signs of worn down teeth, which is a clue that you are grinding them together.
How We Can Help
In keeping with a common theme, there are a variety of ways to treat TMJ problems, too.
One thing you can do at home is to alternate between heat and cold treatments. This can relieve pain and reduce the inflammation of the TMJ and the surrounding muscles.
For people who grind their teeth, we can use splint therapy. This is a kind of mouthguard that you can wear overnight or during the day. The splint prevents your top and bottom teeth from touching (so you can’t grind your teeth), and it holds your jaw in a more relaxed position.
You could think of the splint as a kind of physical therapy for you jaw. With time, your body will adjust to having your jaw in this new position, and the splint may not longer be needed.
In more serious cases, we may consider occlusal adjustments. This is a treatment option that permanently changes the position of your jaw to correct alignment issues that may be contributing to your TMD.
End Your Pain Soon
Life is full of headaches, but that doesn’t mean you have to live with one every morning. The team at our dentist office in Holladay can help end your TMJ problem, and we want to help you.