HEALTH: Headaches and TMJ

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By Dr. Matthew Weekes
January 29th, 2014 Edition

Dental treatment can be helpful in the prevention, treatment and elimination of many of the severe headaches that cause a lifetime of both mental and physical torment for many people worldwide.

The cause or diagnosis is key to the treatment and elimination of headaches. Although there have been many health professionals and specialists involved for years in treating this problem, these bouts of pain tend to reoccur. Often people are told that their pain is stress related. Although this may be a factor in a few cases, stress is seldom the cause.

The common treatment for headaches are over the counter pain medications, prescribed narcotics, physical therapy, cold application, heat therapy, acupuncture, relaxation exercises, ultrasound etc. All these may help but if the symptoms do not go away, it is reasonable to conclude that the true cause of the problem has evaded the investigators.

If you suffer from excruciating headaches, and you have tried everything without relief, you may be suffering from TMD i.e. Tempero Mandibular Dysfunction, commonly referred to as TMJ.
With TMJ, there is dysfunction of the joint between the upper and lower jaws, the disc between the joints may slip out of place causing difficulty opening and closing the mouth, the muscles of the head may go into abnormal contractions, affecting also neck and back muscles.

TMD may result in severe headaches and sometimes neck and back pain. A diagnosis of TMD must be made by a dentist knowledgeable in this field. If you have most of the following symptoms seek help without delay.

Here are some of the common symptoms and conditions.
1. Headaches.
2. Clicking, popping or grating sounds within the jaw joints.
3. Difficulty opening and closing or moving the jaws.
4. Ear pain with no infection.
5. Ringing, buzzing, hissing sound in either ear.
6. Jaw locking when opening wide.
7. Neck pain.
8. Pain under the eyes.
9. Clenching teeth in the day.
10. Grinding teeth at night.
11. Snoring at night.
12. Serious trauma, whiplash.

If you have most of these symptoms, it is highly likely you have TMD.

If the jaws and teeth are positioned abnormally this can head to TMD therefore it is important to diagnose and treat as soon as possible.

A simple appliance worn at night and sometimes during the day usually relieves the pain but for long term treatment a combination of orthodontic treatment, surgery and physical therapy may be necessary. Find out more at dr.weekes.com.

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