• September 15, 2015

If you’ve ever seen The Wizard of Oz, you can recall all the obstacles Dorothy had to go through to finally get the solution to her problem. And her solution ended up being there the whole time – she just didn’t know it right away. Now, let’s use this movie analogy and apply it to a facet of dentistry. Perhaps you’ve been dealing with chronic headaches, migraines, or jaw pain and have sought answers to your problem, only to come up empty handed and still in pain. Did you know the answer to your situation might have been right down the road the whole time? Your TMJ dentist in Brandon, MI offers therapy that might just get rid of jaw pain and headaches for good.

What’s TMJ?

You’ve probably heard of TMJ before, at least in name. But you may not know exactly what it is. TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, which is the joint that connects your jaw to your skull. If you open and close your mouth right now with your hands placed under your ears, you’ll feel it working. However, if you open and close your mouth, now or at another time, and experience clicking or popping sounds, you might have trouble with your TMJ.

Other symptoms of TMD, or temporomandibular joint dysfunction, include:

  • lockjaw
  • jaw pain or discomfort, especially when opening or closing your mouth when eating, speaking, yawning, etc.
  • persistent headaches and migraines, especially when you wake up
  • teeth grinding or clenching, known to us dentists as bruxism
  • neck or shoulder pain
  • TMD can be experienced by people of many ages, but it’s more common among women in their 20s to 40s.

    What Causes TMJ?

    Your guess is as good as ours. Well, this is not entirely true, but TMJ has several symptoms that can disguise as other conditions. That’s why it’s important to have a dentist like Dr. Harrell do a thorough examination to provide a proper diagnosis.

    Here are a few things medical professionals have identified that can cause or contribute to TMD:

  • injury to the jaw
  • arthritis
  • anatomical problems in the jaw joint or its muscles
  • bruxism
  • bad bite, or malocclusion
  • bad/malfunctioning/old dental restorations
  • stress
  • The last one in the list, stress, is also something that can make it worse, along with things like chewing hard foods or ice or even sleeping in the wrong position!

    What TMJ Treatment Can I Get?

    Night Guard

    If you think you might have TMJ, there’s hope right nearby at Brandon Family Dental! We offer nighttime splints that can reposition your jaw to a more natural position. This can help reduce the force and pressure put on your jaw joint and thus relieve your discomfort.

    If Dr. Harrell determines you have TMD, she will take impressions of your teeth to send to a lab, where your custom sleep guard will be made. A couple weeks later, you’ll pick it up at our office and wear it at night or as directed by Dr. Harrell. Nighttime use is especially important if you grind your teeth, because it normally happens at night. The guard will physically block your upper and lower teeth from touching, so you won’t be able to grind them. Without grinding, you won’t be transferring all that pressure to your head, and you may begin to notice your headaches disappearing almost instantly.

    Occlusal Adjustments

    The word “occlusal” simply refers to your bite, that is, the way your teeth fit together. If your lower and upper teeth don’t fit together properly, or if individual teeth prevent your teeth from aligning correctly, you have a bad bite, or malocclusion. Bad bites can put extra pressure on your jaw as it constantly tries to align itself when you use it to eat and more. This can cause TMJ problems.

    One way Dr. Harrell can fix this is with orthodontics. By using braces to fix your bite and reposition your jaw and teeth, we can help eliminate your jaw pain and headaches for good! Read more about our orthodontic treatments here.

    If you have a bad restoration, such as a crown or bridge – especially one worn down from teeth grinding – we can help repair it and improve your bite that way, too.

    See Us for Jaw Pain Relief and TMJ Relief

    There are other ways we can suggest to deal with your jaw pain, such as relaxation techniques for your jaw, as well as diet changes that can stop putting so much pressure on your jaw. To find out the best treatment for you, contact us today! We’ll get you in for a consultation soon so that those headaches, jaw pain, and migraines are nothing to fear ever again! Your pain relief has been waiting here for you the whole time!