Do you suffer from headaches, facial and upper body pain? Do you have ringing in your ears or numbness in your fingers? Do you regularly take over-the-counter painkillers, like Tylenol or Ibuprofen?
Chronic pain is not normal, and neither is taking daily doses of pain medications. But you should know that you are not alone.
In the USA, about 45 million people report having regular headaches. Many suffer the debilitating pain of these chronic problems, never associating them with their mouths! We have found that these headaches and upper body pains are frequently linked to temporomandibular joint disease (also known as TMD or TMJ).
Through TMJ treatment, the dentists at Avery and Meadows can help relieve chronic pain.
Symptoms of TMJ Dysfunction
There is a direct relationship between oral health and chronic pain. Three important factors affect TMJ health — the teeth, the muscles and the temporomandibular joints. People who suffer from TMJ dysfunction have a structural imbalance in their jaw-to-skull relationship.
If you suffer from any of the following symptoms, you may be a candidate for TMJ treatment:
- Headaches or migraines
- Unexplained loose teeth
- Worn, chipped or cracked teeth
- Cracked, chipped or broken dental restorations
- Pain or soreness around the jaw joints
- Pain in teeth that seems to move around
- Neck, shoulder or back pain
- Facial pain
- Clicking or grating sounds in the jaw joints
- Limited movement or locking jaw
- Numbness in your fingers and arms
- Congestion or stuffiness of the ears
The first step in diagnosing TMJ is a thorough interview with the patient. Your doctor will listen to your concerns then does a complete evaluation of your bite, examining the teeth, muscles and joints.
If your doctor finds evidence of malocclusion (a poorly aligned bite), he will recommend conservative, non-surgical treatment to return your bite to an optimal, functional position.
To correct your bite and eliminate your TMJ pain, your doctor may use splint therapy or restorative dentistry to adjust the position of your jaw, and relieve any stress on the surrounding muscles and joints. If your symptoms also include nighttime teeth grinding, your dentist may fit you with a custom-made nightguard appliance. The nightguard will reduce the damage to your teeth from grinding or clenching during sleep, and reduce any grinding-related symptoms.