TemporoMandibular Joint disorder symptoms range from mildly annoying discomfort to severe, debilitating pain in the face, head, neck, and teeth, plus earaches and spasms of the facial muscles.
When teeth don’t line up properly in the upper or lower jaws it’s called malocclusion. Malocclusion causes extra muscular stress causing muscle and jaw pain. This pain radiates upward to the head and downward to the neck and shoulders. Left untreated, parts of the jaw joint will start to collapse and degrade, producing more inflammatory—sharper and more focused—pain.
FAQs About TMJ Treatment
What causes malocclusion?
Malocclusion occurs when the peaks and valleys of your upper teeth fail to fit precisely into those of your lower teeth. When this misalignment happens tooth positions can shift. The result is eroded teeth (and bridgework), stress on your jaw hinges, and muscle tension.
A good bite meshes your teeth like the gears in fine machinery. But a bad bite has many ramifications including severe headaches and muscle spasms. The first clue to what’s ailing you might be the pops and clicks your jaw joints make when you open your mouth to eat or yawn. Signs of possible TMJ are chronic headaches, difficulty opening your mouth or chewing certain kinds of food, or a ringing or popping sound in one or both ears. If you have a sore jaw or unexplained pain in your head or neck, or if you have trouble turning your head from side to side—your problem could be TMJ. Or it could be something else. Come in to have it evaluated.
What can be done?
We might suggest placing a plastic splint over your teeth to fool your body into thinking your bite is perfect. If the splint relieves the pain, we might correct the tooth fit by selectively grinding the tooth surfaces. Reshaping them with a crown or bridge correction might fix the problem, but if your teeth are just too far apart to fit comfortably together, we’ll discuss moving your teeth through the bone for a better fitting bite.
In extreme cases, oral surgery of the jaws might be needed to realign the bones prior to making the teeth fit.
TMJ and those head and neck pains may not disappear in a flash. But with careful evaluation and testing, your results will range from distinct improvement to permanent relief from pain.