Headaches and jaw pain and TMJ, Oh My!
You woke up with a headache again, and this one is worse than yesterday’s. You head to the medicine cabinet for a pain reliever. You start the coffee maker, then you take your morning shower while it brews.
After you’ve cleaned up, you head to the kitchen, put some bread in the toaster, and pour a cup of coffee. You add a little jam to your toast. After a few bites, you can’t help noticing that your jaw is starting to hurt. That shouldn’t happen, should it?
You are right, it shouldn’t. It could be a sign that you have a TMJ problem.
If you live near Rochester Hills, then the good news is that you are close to people who can help — Hubbard & Leath Dental.
What Is Wrong With Your Jaw
TMJ is an abbreviation for temporomandibular joint. This is a ball-and-socket joint that allows you to open and close your mouth when you are eating, speaking, singing, and yawning.
Problems with this joint are known as TMJ disorders or TMDs. Those problems can arise for a variety of reasons such as:
• Arthritis. It can hurt your knees. It can hurt your hands, and it can hurt your jaw.
• Injuries and accidents. If you get hit in the face or experience whiplash, it can injure your TMJ, the muscles around it, or both.
• Alignment problems with your jaw. If your joint is misaligned in some way, this could affect your bite, which could lead to your TMJ problems.
• Stress. Some people respond to stress by clenching their teeth or clenching the muscles in their face and neck. This can affect the joints in your jaw.
• Grinding your teeth. This puts extra pressure on your jaw joint and the muscles that surround it. This can be a response to stress, too, or it could be something you do while you are asleep.
Why TMJ Disorders Are Bad For You
TMJ disorders are disruptive. When you experience the symptoms of TMD, it can distract you from what you are trying to do. It might prevent you from concentrating on the task at hand, whether you are at work, at school, or at home.
The morning headaches we described in the opening are one example of those symptoms. If you knew that you were grinding your teeth together for hours when you sleep, then it probably would not surprise you if you woke up with a headache.
That could explain the jaw pain you might feel during the day, too.
Just as TMDs can have a variety of causes, these disorders can cause different problems for different people. Here are some possible symptoms that you may be experiencing:
► Headaches, including migraines
► Pain in your jaw while you are eating or after you finish eating
► Swelling and tenderness around your jaw
► Pain in your facial muscles
► Pain in your neck and shoulders
► Popping or clicking sounds when you open or close your mouth
► Limited motion of your jaw.
► Temporary inability to move your jaw.
If you are experiencing multiple problems or particular problems on a regular basis, then you should get checked to find out if you have a TMJ disorder.
How Your Dentist Can Help
If you come to Hubbard & Leath Dental, we can help treat your TMD and relieve your symptoms.
Wearing a mouthpiece can be an effective treatment for this kind of problem. The mouthpiece helps in two ways.
First, it prevents you from grinding your teeth. The mouthpiece provides a barrier between your upper and lower teeth.
Second, it changes the position of your jaw. As your body becomes accustomed to this position, your jaw muscles will feel more relaxed.
Stopping the grinding and relieving the tension will go a long way toward ending your headaches, earaches, and other pains associated with your TMJ problem.
In more severe cases of TMD, a mouthguard may not be enough. If this treatment does not work, then we can discuss other treatment options to help you.
A New Morning Routine
Imagine that morning routine again. This time, you don’t have a headache when you wake up. Your shower is refreshing, and you enjoy your breakfast without any pain in your jaw.
This kind of morning is possible, and Hubbard & Leath Dental can help.