People don’t usually think of the dentist as the health care professional to see for chronic headaches and migraines. Yet dentists are often instrumental in diagnosing and treating many cases of recurring headaches. This is because a number of recurring pains in the head, neck, jaw, and face are caused by conditions in the mouth and the rest of the craniofacial area. For example, recurring pain in the temples on the sides of the head are usually caused by teeth grinding or clenching. In some cases, misalignment in the teeth or jaw area can put pressure in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and lead to pain.
What Is Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ/TMD)?
The TMJs are your jaw joints on both sides of the face. This is the hinge joint that lets you open and close your mouth. When the jaw joints are damaged because of teeth grinding, trauma, or gum disease, you may experience pain and difficulty chewing and speaking. Left untreated, teeth grinding and clenching (bruxism) may lead to jaw joint problems and frequent headaches.
What Is Bruxism?
Bruxism relates to TMJ disorder in two ways. One, when grinding continues for years without proper treatment, wear facets develop on teeth. This diminishes the structure of the teeth that are receiving the most force of clenching and grinding. Initially, bruxism may cause persistent tooth sensitivity. Over time, however, the bite may decline and the temporomandibular joints that have been pressed upon time and time again suffer damage.
What Can be Done For Teeth Grinding?
- Obtain an evaluation for obstructive sleep apnea.
- Reduce stress and anxiety with lifestyle techniques such as yoga and stillness. If necessary, talk with your medical doctor about medication for ongoing anxiety or use essential oils known for reducing stress.
- Limit consumption of tobacco, alcohol, and caffeine. These are psychoactive substances that commonly lead to sleep disorders, including teeth grinding.
See your dentist for a thorough dental examination and fitting for a custom-made night guard.
Common Signs and Symptoms of TMJ
Millions of people across the country are affected by TMD, but many of those people don’t know the signs that indicate they are suffering from TMD, nor do they know what causes TMD. Here is a list of the most common signs of TMJ:
- Migraines and Headaches
- Head and Neck pain, and
- Popping sounds when opening or closing your mouth
- Clicking sounds when you open or close your mouth
If you experience any of these common symptoms frequently, consult your dentist in Webster right away. You may be suffering from TMJ disorder (TMD). Clear Lake Dental Care is here to offer migraine headache prevention and relief in your current problem.
TMJ Treatment: What to Expect?
To diagnose and rule out other causes of the pain, your dentist will perform a thorough oral examination. For immediate and long-term relief from pain caused by TMD, your dentist may recommend behavior modification, eating soft foods for a few days to reduce stress on the jaw joints, gentle stretching exercises, anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxants, biofeedback, stress management, and other conservative therapies. Surgery is usually performed when all other treatments have failed.
Your dentist may also recommend mouthguards or nightguards. A mouthguard is a plastic oral appliance that’s custom made for your teeth. It fits over the teeth and helps eliminate grinding and reduce pressure on the jaw joint and surrounding structures. A custom nightguard is a mouthguard worn when you sleep.
Will TMJ treatment also correct my teeth grinding?
What if I have a restorative treatment and still grind my teeth?
The force of teeth grinding travels through teeth into the root system. As this energy passes through, the gums are also affected and may begin to recede away from tooth structure. Gum recession around dental crowns creates a risk for infection and decay at the root level. Furthermore, bruxism can prevent a person from being a good candidate for dental implants, as the pressure on gums and bone is too substantial to support the optimal integration of implant posts.