Do You Have Jaw Pain? Headaches? Could Be TMJ

If you have jaw pain and wake up with headaches, you may have a problem referred to as TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder. Let’s break this down so you can get to the treatments (which are highly effective).

The TMJ is a joint that connects the lower jaw to the skull, acting as a hinge to allow you to move your jaw in order to chew and talk. Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) occur when there are issues affecting this joint and the muscles surrounding it. 

TMD can be a temporary issue or it can last for years and requires diagnosis to apply the relevant treatment. Although it can be hard to pinpoint the cause of TMD, some of the main reasons for someone to suffer with this are thought to be:

  • Whiplash or a physical blow
  • Teeth grinding
  • Uneven bite
  • Stress
  • Arthritis
  • Wear and tear

Symptoms of TMD

There are numerous signs you may be suffering with TMD, some of which could also be caused by another factor. A major symptom of TMD is severe pain in the jaw area, which could extend up around the ear and temple. This pain can sometimes be worse when chewing. 

Another sign a dentist may look for when examining you is whether you experience clicking, popping or grinding noises when you move the jaw. Other symptoms include:

  • Trouble opening the mouth
  • Locking of the jaw
  • Sore neck
  • An uncomfortable bite
  • Swelling of the face

Self-help Treatments for TMD

Your dentist can test for TMD using a range of methods from a physical examination or a bite analysis, through to an X-ray or an MRI scan. Treatments depend on the severity of the TMD but there are a number of self-help treatments your dentist may suggest initially. These include:

  • Eating soft foods
  • Applying a cold pack, followed by a warm towel
  • Over-the-counter medications to relieve pain and reduce inflammation
  • Relaxation methods including massaging the jaw and muscles

Using a Splint

A splint can be applied to the lower jaw to help realign the joint. This can be beneficial in lessening the effects of teeth grinding or clenching. A splint is designed to take off the pressure from the jaw and to allow the muscles to relax. A night guard can be worn when sleeping to achieve similar results and your dentist will help decide which would be best for you. 

Further treatment options include:

  • Low level electrical currents to relax the joint and muscles
  • Ultrasound
  • Acupuncture
  • Trigger-point injections

As you can see, there are plenty of treatment options to relieve TMJ discomfort and pain. Talk to your dentist if you have symptoms, so you can get on the path to treatment — and experience real pain relief. Enjoy your life now, don’t wait for it to get better — because that won’t happen. 

Our commitment at Danny de Villiers Dentist Weybridge, is to personalised, holistic health care, which puts the individual needs of the patient at the centre of everything we do.