Chronic headaches are serious – they can make even day-to-day activities seem burdensome. If you’ve tried medications and other at-home remedies but still can’t find relief, it might be time to talk to your dentist. In many cases, headaches stem from a misaligned bite, which creates jaw and facial tension, as well as night-time teeth grinding. Dr. Pearce have training in the mechanical workings of the mouth, and he can alleviate headaches and restore your bite with TMJ therapy.
What does TMJ stand for?
TMJ is an acronym referring to the temporomandibular joints. Disorders of the TMJs are referred to as TMD or TMJ dysfunction. These joints are one of the most commonly used joints in the body, because they allow a person to speak, eat, and form facial expressions.
What causes TMJ Dysfunction?
TMD has a variety of causes that are often hard to pinpoint. Some common causes of TMD include:
- A dislocated TMJ: Symptoms of a dislocated TMJ may include a popping or cracking noise when the jaw is closed or opened and restricted movement of the neck, jaw, and face.
- Arthritis: A patient with arthritis in the TMJs may have difficulty closing and opening his or her mouth, as well as swelling in the adjoining ligaments, tissue, and muscles.
- A misaligned bite: Strain on the musculature surrounding the TMJs may occur if the lower and upper teeth are not properly aligned.
- Wear and tear on cartilage: The cartilage disks that pad the TMJ can become displaced or worn, which could cause painful grinding of the jaw bone.
- Grinding and clenching: One of the most common causes of TMJ disorders is the habitual grinding and clenching of teeth. Cartilage disks may have added wear and tear and may even lead to the dislocation of the jaw.
What are the treatment options?
Patients have many options for TMJ therapy. Pain can initially be relieved by making an appointment with Dr. Pearce for a mouthguard or dental splint. Your treatment plan may also include bite therapy and diagnosis of the cause. Dr. Pearce also create a jaw exercise routine to alleviate clenching or grinding that causes stress on the lower jaw.
Bite Therapy: A careful, detailed analysis of the mouth and jaw will establish the cause of a patient’s TMJ disorder. Dr. Pearce will measure a patient’s bite pressure throughout the mouth and formulate a plan for dental work to correct any oral issues and provide relief caused by TMJpain.
Mouthguards: Dr. Pearce and the team at Serenity Dental will create mouthguards for patients suffering from TMJ disorder to make it more difficult to clench the jaw. Mouthguards are typically made of soft plastic molds taken from the upper and lower teeth. Serenity Dental will create a custom-fitted mouthguard to ensure the utmost efficiency and comfort.
TMJ Jaw Exercises: TMJ jaw exercises are created for a patient to eliminate clenching, correct problematic alignment, and to help the patient relax the jaw. Dr. Pearce at Serenity Dental in Rocklin will carefully and thoroughly provide patients with an appropriate series of exercises to practice in front of a mirror. Over time, TMJ jaw exercises will teach a patient to not only stop clenching but will also give a patient control over jaw muscles.