Chronic Headaches? It Could Be TMJ

Headaches are a leading medical issue among both men and women in the U.S., accounting for the lion’s share of doctor’s visits each year. While some chronic and recurrent headaches may be caused by stress or problems with the neurological or circulatory systems (like migraines), a lot of headaches are due to temporomandibular joint disorder or TMJ, and despite its really long name, it can be surprisingly easy to treat - as long as you get treatment early.

What is temporomandibular joint disorder?

TMJ is a disorder that occurs when the jaw joints (also called the temporomandibular joints) become stressed, and that stress results in irritation and inflammation inside the joints. Lots of issues can cause or contribute to TMJ, including missing teeth, crooked or damaged teeth, or clenching or grinding habits. All of these problems can disrupt the normal bite balance, pulling and tugging on the muscles and ligaments that support the jaws.

In addition to causing headaches, TMJ can also result in problems like:

  • persistent pain in the jaws, face and neck

  • sleep problems

  • dizziness

  • “clicking” noises or a sticking sensation when chewing

  • reduced jaw movement

  • congestion or ringing in the ears

  • tooth sensitivity

Plus, an unbalanced bite can cause uneven tooth wear, which in turn can contribute to decay, fissures, fractures and even loose or lost teeth.

Too often, dentists treat TMJ by focusing on the symptoms, providing treatments that mask pain without addressing the underlying cause. But the real key to successfully treating TMJ is to work with an experienced dentist who’s skilled in identifying and treating the root cause of the condition, rather than providing stopgap solutions that simply address the symptoms.

How is TMJ treated at Dream Smile Dental?

The team at Dream Smile Dental has extensive experience in evaluating TMJ and identifying its cause. Treatment begins with a thorough assessment of the teeth and the bite while the jaw muscles are active and at rest. The facial and neck muscles will also be evaluated, and of course, a dental exam will help identify issues like crooked or damaged teeth that could be contributing to TMJ. Muscular evaluations are performed using hands-on assessments as well as computer evaluations to obtain the most accurate and detailed information about your teeth, jaws and muscle activity.

Then, a custom mouthpiece (or dental orthotic) is created to support the teeth and jaws in their correct positions. The mouthpiece relieves stress and strain in the jaw joints while the dentist determine which treatments are needed to rebalance the bite so joint strain is relieved and tooth damage is avoided. The specific treatment will depend on what’s causing the bite balance to become disrupted, and might include crowns, bridges or other restorative options.

Relieve TMJ symptoms once and for all.

Dream Smile Dental is a leading provider of TMJ treatments for patients in and around Boston, Massachusetts. If you experience chronic headaches, jaw pain or other TMJ symptoms, scheduling an exam and evaluation is the first step toward feeling better and preventing additional damage. Call our office at 781-330-0900 and schedule your appointment today.

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