TMJ, Head Neck and Facial Pain Treatment
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Source of your pain could be from an uneven bite
If you suffer from TMJ, headaches, neck or facial pain the source of your pain may be an uneven bite – That is, your upper and lower teeth don’t fit together quite right. This creates a conflict between your teeth and jaw joints that leads to teeth clenching and grinding and ultimately pain and damage.
75% of ALL head, neck, or facial pain is from muscles caused by bite problems.
When teeth don’t fit together evenly most people will start to clench or grind their teeth.
Clenching and grinding leads to dental damage including worn or broken teeth as well as hyper muscle activity that can lead to head, neck, facial pain, and possible joint damage.
Diagnosis is the key to successful treatment.
If you have head, neck, and facial pain it might be due to a number of possible problems. Dr. Simon’s patented and FDA approved Best-Bite Discluder can tell you in minutes whether or not your pain is from an uneven bite.
1. When teeth don’t fit together evenly most people will start to clench or grind their teeth.
Clenching and grinding leads to dental damage including worn or broken teeth as well as hyper muscle activity that can lead to head, neck, facial pain and possible joint damage. Think of it this way. If you go to the beach and put down your chair in the sand it will wobble because the sand isn’t level. But no one wants to sit in an uncomfortable chair all day. So you dig the chair in till it’s level. But if you took your chair to the parking lot where the ground is very hard, and you tried the same thing it wouldn’t work. All you’ll do is break the chair or hurt yourself in the attempt, but you won’t get the chair level. Clenching or grinding teeth is mostly an effort to get your teeth to fit without a wobble like the chair. The cause of tooth clenching or grinding is the wobble. When the wobble stops, so does the clenching or grinding.
2. When you clench and grind you are overworking your jaw muscles and if you over work them they will start to hurt.
Lift some weights at the gym or carry some heavy packages. If you are doing “bite ups” with your head and jaw muscles that is the same thing and might cause pain. But when you let the muscles relax by putting down the weights or packages, the pain stops.
3. Stress might make you more annoyed by the wobble but stress does not cause the head, neck, and facial pain.
Stress is like wind. Wind will spread a fire but unless you have a match to start the fire, wind by itself will not make a fire. The wobbly bite is the “match” to start clenching and grinding that might lead to dental damage, jaw damage or head, neck, and facial pain. Or all three.
4. The solution is to even the bite.
So the trick is to even the bite to stop the teeth clenching and grinding, the dental damage or head, neck, and facial pain. There are a number of ways that evening can be accomplished depending on your situation including a bite guard, dental equilibration and braces.
5. Diagnosis is the key to successful treatment.
TMJ is the name of the jaw joint. (Temporomandibular Joint.) Like elbow and knee, is the name of a joint. Everyone has two TMJ or jaw joints. So if you have head, neck, and facial pain it might be due to a number of possible problems. Dr. Simon’s patented and FDA approved Best-Bite Discluder can tell you in minutes whether or not your pain is from an uneven bite.
DOES YOUR JAW MAKE CLICKING OR POPPING SOUNDS
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Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the FAQ we’ve received from our patients. Have additional questions or concerns, call us: 203-324-6171
Headaches are a very broad category of problems and include dozens of potential causes. Dental causes of head, neck or facial pain could include cavities, abscessed teeth, gum infection, cysts, tumors of the jaw bones or swollen glands, broken or cracked teeth and TMJ dysfunction syndrome.
TMJ dysfunction is any pain that results from a conflict between the biting surfaces of the teeth and the jaw joints. It is only one specific problem that can occur with the jaw joint. Unless it can be proven that the pain is caused by a conflict between the teeth and jaw joint, it is not TMJ dysfunction.
It could be TMJ dysfunction, but it might not. The only way to be sure is to go to a dentist who has specific training in treating TMJ dysfunction and be tested. TMJ dysfunction is easy to misdiagnose and so you need to be sure the dentist has the pre-requisite training.
Often, a whiplash injury triggers TMJ dysfunction. Anyone who has had a whiplash injury should be screened for TMJ dysfunction if the pain from the injury does not clear up quickly.
Stress does not cause TMJ dysfunction. A conflict between the biting surfaces of the teeth and jaw joint is the cause. Stress can take a patient, who has been tolerating this discomfort, and reduce their tolerance to the point that the pre-existing dental condition begins to cause pain.
Earaches have nothing to do with your teeth or TMJ dysfunction. However, if you put your finger in your ear, you can see how close it is to your jaw joint and teeth. If you open and close your mouth while your finger is in your ear, you can actually feel your jaw joint move. As a result, what may feel like a ear ache may in fact be a jaw joint problem.
If the dentist has ruled out tooth problems, then you need to be checked for TMJ dysfunction by a dentist who is specifically trained in the diagnosis and treatment of TMJ dysfunction. Most dentists have not had this training.
Braces are great but they have limitations. First, your teeth may be straight but there still could be a conflict between your teeth and jaw joints even after braces. Second, things may have shifted since the braces were taken off.
Actually NO Stress does not cause headaches any more than stress causes knee aches or elbow aches. What stress might do is lower your tolerance for an uneven bite. And if you bite is uneven many people start to clench or grind their teeth and that results in muscle over activity and that can lead to pain. You need to get checked by a dentist trained in TMJ dysfunction.
Most people who do grind their teeth don’t realize it. Look at your teeth very carefully to see if there is any wear that could be due to tooth grinding, even if you don’t think you are doing it.
TMJ dysfunction is the pain that results, and can be proven to be caused, by a conflict between the teeth and jaw joints. The pain is actually muscle pain or cramping from the jaw muscles. These jaw muscles wrap around the entire head.
A tooth infection could definitely cause headaches, particularly an infection in a molar tooth.
A wisdom tooth problem could definitely cause head pain.
A gum infection could also be the cause of head pain.
Because taking pain pills is not good for you. They can damage your liver and stomach and most important, taking a pill to mask the pain of a headache does nothing to solve the problem. Symptoms can continue to worsen even if it doesn’t hurt. Many patients who wind up with severe jaw problems that may require major surgery started out as a TMJ problem caused by the bite that was not properly treated.
You need to find a dentist with specific training in diagnosing and treating TMJ dysfunction. Most dentists do not have this training so you will need to be very specific in questioning the dentist to determine their qualifications.
First you need to determine if your bite is THE PROBLEM, If it is the problem, braces could be the solution but may not be needed. The objective is to eliminate the conflict between the teeth and the jaw joints. Treatment options include:
1) A bite splint which is a temporary measure
2) Reshaping the biting surfaces of the teeth (bite equilibration) which is a long term solution for eliminating the conflict.
3) If your bite is off too far for reshaping, (option 2) then braces may be part of the solution. The goal is for you to end up with an even bite, not just straight looking teeth.
A bite guard, if it is properly made, will definitely take away pain that is due to TMJ dysfunction, as long as it eliminates the conflict between the teeth and the jaw joint. However, it only works when you are wearing it. As soon as you take the bite splint out, your bite goes back to where it was before, so it is not a long-term solution.
If a bite splint didn’t help, either it was not adjusted well enough to eliminate the conflict between the teeth and jaw joint or, if it was, your bite is not the problem.
The bite guards they sell in a sports store is designed to act as a cushion to protect your teeth in case of a blow to the face. The TMJ bite splint is not designed to act as a cushion but rather as a substitute for an even bite.
This is like when you have a wobbly table in a restaurant. If the waiter puts the correct size matchbook under the leg of the table it stops the wobble. If the matchbook isn’t exactly the right size, the table continues to wobble. So the best case is that you have a temporarily stable table. However, whenever the matchbook is removed, the legs are still not equal and the table will wobble again.
Similarly a bite splint will correct the wobble in your bite whenever you wear it, however like the matchbook, it must be exactly the right fit for it to work properly. And when it is removed your uneven bite is still there. Thus, a bite splint is not truly a long-term solution. The long term solution is to shorten the legs of the table until they are all equal such that you don’t have to use a matchbook at all. The equivalent of this is to even out the bite by equilibration.
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