Understanding, Treating, and Beating TMJ Pain

There are many, many reasons for you to develop a headache. In fact, it can be so difficult to find a reason for a headache that most of us take a couple of pain relievers and forget that the headache ever happened. We will do that until we begin to notice a recurring pattern.

When we begin to notice that our headache keeps coming back, or won’t go away at all, we might go to the doctor. The problem is just as we said before, it can be difficult to figure out exactly what is going on because there are so many causes for headaches. Often, a doctor will simply prescribe a pain reliever and send you home.

If you really want to get to the bottom of your headache (and you definitely should!), you will need to seek actual answers. We recommend that you begin right here at Santa Fe Dental in Edmond, OK.

We know what you’re thinking: why would you see a dentist for a headache? A very common reason for recurring headaches is a problem with your temporomandibular joint (TMJ). We can give you a quick exam and find out if this is your diagnosis, or if you need to keep seeking answers.

The Purpose of Your TMJ

Your TMJ is a very, very important part of your body, but this may be the first time you’ve ever heard of it! The TMJ is a joint on either side of your face and can be found just in front of your ear. This pair of joints is responsible for opening and closing your mouth thousands of times each day!

Every yawn, every word, and every bite of food puts your TMJ to work as it drops and lifts your lower jaw. You can see that if your TMJ is injured or stressed, it won’t get much of a chance to rest, and that’s what causes the pain.

Knowing There’s Trouble

Problems with the TMJ are sometimes difficult to identify because there are a variety of symptoms, and not every patient experiences the symptoms in the same way! Let’s take a look at common signs that you are having trouble with your TMJ.

Pain: We have already mentioned the fact that headaches go hand in hand with TMJ dysfunction. You might also feel pain in your jaw when you chew or yawn. The pain can stretch all the way down your neck and into your shoulder!

Sounds: A big red flag will be sounds you hear when you are chewing or yawning. If you jaw pops or clicks while you are eating, it is a definitely sign that there is something wrong with your TMJ.

Other Sensations: Other patients experience jaw and facial exhaustion after eating. Others find that they cannot open their jaw all the way, or they might experience locked jaw.

Treating TMJ Pain

If you have been experiencing any of the symptoms we described above, it is definitely time to come into the office for an exam! If we discover trouble with your TMJ, we will immediately get to work with treatment. We find that conservative treatment can usually take care of the problem, but we have a few advanced treatments when needed.

Relaxation & Stress Relief: Often TMJ is associated with bruxism, which is a condition where you clench or grind your teeth during stressful situations or while asleep. We might recommend relaxation techniques, posture changes, muscle relaxants etc. to help your TMJ have time to heal and get back to normal.

Oral Appliances: We can also provide oral appliances that will protect your teeth while you sleep. We recommend night guards and bite splints. Both keep your teeth separated while you sleep so that you cannot cause more damage to your teeth and jaw.

Orthodontic Alignment: If bruxism isn’t caused by stress, it could be caused by a misalignment of your teeth. Your two arches of teeth have trouble fitting together, so they are in constant motion. We can use orthodontics to correct that issue!

Replacing Teeth: Just as misaligned teeth have trouble fitting together, missing or broken teeth can lead to bruxism as well. Sometimes all your TMJ needs is for you to restore a broken or missing tooth!

Be Pain-Free, Set Up an Appointment

Don’t deal with these headaches any longer! There is a solution, and we are here to help you achieve it! Contact us today to set up an appointment. We can’t wait to help you repair your TMJ so that you can live pain-free!