Jaw problems and headaches – what can be done to help?
At each routine dental appointment the dentist will not only look at the health of your teeth and gums but will also look at the way your teeth meet when you bite together, this is called your dental occlusion.
The way your teeth meet when you bite together can affect much more than your ability to eat a wide and varied diet. You may experience a number of different problems including:
- Breaking or chipping your teeth more often and fillings may wear down more quickly. You may also experience sensitivity when your teeth bite together.
- Loose teeth or receding gums can be made worse by an incorrect bite.
- Clicking, grinding or pain in your jaw joints, ringing in your ears and difficulty opening and closing your mouth.
- If your jaw is in the wrong position, the muscles have to work harder and can get tired leading to muscle spasms, headaches, pain behind the eyes or sinus pains and pains in your neck and shoulders.
Many people do not have a perfect bite but never have symptoms as their muscles and jaw have adapted to this altered bite. However should you experience any of the above problems you should notify your dentist at your next appointment so that further investigations can be undertaken.
Symptoms can also be caused by grinding or clenching of your teeth, this may be something you are unaware of doing as it can often be done subconsciously and can occur at times of high stress or when you are concentrating on a task. If the problems are most acute in the morning, it may be that you are grinding or clenching your teeth in your sleep and so may be totally unaware you are doing it.
If you are missing some teeth at the back of your mouth this can cause uneven pressure and lead to a number of symptoms.
Together all these symptoms are called TMJ syndrome
If your dentist believes that your symptoms are caused by an incorrect bite they may advise that you wear a hard plastic appliance that fits over your upper and lower teeth forcing them to meet where your muscles are relaxed. If you find that this gives instant relief it may be worth considering having your bite altered permanently.
If you are grinding or clenching your teeth in your sleep, it may be advisable to wear a night guard. This is a thin plastic appliance that you wear over your top teeth and it acts as a barrier between your teeth and helps to prevent further damage as you will wear down the night guard rather than your teeth.
Focusing on a soft diet for a short time may also help to improve the symptoms. This helps to reduce the pressure put on your jaw joint and when combined with corrective exercises and applying heat can help to reduce symptoms. Counselling and relaxation therapy can help you to become more aware of stressful situations and control tension.
In severe cases you may need to be referred to a specialist. They will be able to advise on alternative treatments including tooth adjustments, replacement of teeth and orthodontic treatment.
Up to 1 in 4 people may suffer some symptoms of TMJ syndrome. The team at The Essex Smile Centre are all trained to deal with a wide range of dental problems so if you are experiencing any jaw problems do not hesitate to discuss this with the team at your next appointment. Call the surgery on 01268 742 333 to book your appointment today.