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November 19, 2023

How to Finally Stop Your Chronic Jaw Pain & Headaches

Filed under: Uncategorized — elreno @ 4:05 pm
young woman enjoying relief from TMJ pain

An aching jaw that pops and clicks all the time. Headaches and migraines that seem to come out of nowhere. Ear and shoulder pain that is there every morning. These aren’t symptoms that stem from overindulging at Thanksgiving, but rather signs that the jaw joint (temporomandibular joint or TMJ) isn’t working properly. Millions of Americans deal with these problems every single day and don’t know why, but with November being TMJ Awareness Month, it’s time to shed light on the subject. If any of the above sounds familiar, today’s blog could help you finally start getting the answers and relief you deserve.

TMJ Basics

Your lower jaw is attached to your skull via the TMJ, which consists of two hinges you can feel right in front of your ears whenever you move your mouth (especially when you chew). It’s an intricate system of bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and even two cartilage disks on either side. Like other joints in the body, it can develop problems for a wide variety of reasons, with the most common being injury, arthritis, unconscious teeth grinding, excessive daily stress, and an uneven bite.  All of these can lead to a condition called TMJ disorder, or TMD for short.

Symptoms of TMJ Disorder

  • Persistent jaw pain
  • Frequent headaches/migraines
  • Popping and clicking in the jaw
  • Jaw becomes stuck opening or closing
  • Nighttime teeth grinding
  • Worn enamel and cracked teeth
  • Ear pain
  • Neck pain
  • Shoulder pain

When the muscles of the TMJ are out of balance for any reason, this naturally causes the body to try to force them into equilibrium. As a result, the muscles overwork and strain, creating pain. This can easily radiate into the nearby head, ears, neck, and even back in rare instances. TMJ issues are why so many headache sufferers can’t find relief—it’s not their head that’s the problem!

TMJ Treatment Options

Left untreated, a TMJ disorder will simply become worse over time, meaning the pain will increase and the teeth will wear down prematurely, both of which can create even more problems down the road. However, solutions can be found at a familiar place that most people don’t think about at first—the dentist.

Dentists are trained not just to treat the teeth but also take care of the entire oral system including your bite, jaw, and the nearby structures. They can discover the source of your TMJ-related pain and give you a custom-made oral appliance called a splint to wear to bed that balances your bite, stops grinding, and allows your jaw muscles to finally relax, rest, and heal. This approach usually takes a few months to fully work, and in the meantime, they can use a TENS machine to lightly massage your face and give you immediate relief.  

If you’ve already been to multiple doctors about your oral and head pain, and they haven’t really helped, it’s time to schedule an appointment with a dentist. The comfortable life you’ve been waiting for is likely closer than you might think.

About the Author

Dr. Krysten Jackson and Dr. Eric Parsons are restorative, implant, and cosmetic dentists who graduated from the world-renowned University of Oklahoma College of Dentistry. Dr. Jackson completed her Advanced Education in General Dentistry residency there, and Dr. Parsons is constantly training to use the latest technology to deliver the most comfortable and effective treatment possible. When it comes to TMJ-related pain, they help our patients prevent it as well as offer multiple proven solutions to stop it in its tracks. To schedule an appointment at El Reno Family Dentistry, click here.

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