Does your jaw pop or click when you open and close your mouth? Do you find yourself depending on pain relievers to dull the throbbing headaches that linger day after day? If so, you may suffer from a temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, disorder. TMJ disorders occur when the delicate balance of the temporomandibular joint, the joint that controls the opening and closing of the jaw, is upset. Stress on the TMJ can disturb this balance, and because much of the face and neck (as well as the jaw) is innervated by the same nerve, problems with the TMJ can manifest in a variety of ways including frequent headaches, migraines, earaches, facial pain, neck pain, and a locked jaw.
Causes of TMJ Disorders
- Malocclusion. Malocclusion, or “bad bite,” occurs when the teeth of the upper and lower jaws do not fit together properly. Because the fit is improper, significant strain is placed on the TMJ when the teeth come together to bite or chew.
- Bruxism. Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, puts the TMJ under serious stress. The clenching and grinding of teeth during the night is capable of wearing down teeth until they suffer structural damage. That same force is exerted on the TMJ and can result in a disorder.
- A blow to the jaw. If the jaw is knocked out of alignment because of a blow, the same strain that results from malocclusion can be exerted on the TMJ during chewing and biting. Such strain often results in a TMJ disorder.
Treating TMJ Disorders
If a TMJ disorder is the result of malocclusion, bite correction therapy or orthodontic work may be able to relieve the strain on the TMJ. If bruxism is the cause, Dr. Staten may recommend stress management therapy or a night guard to stop teeth grinding.
Schedule an Appointment with Your Las Vegas Dentist
If you have frequent headaches and jaw pain, you may have a TMJ disorder. If so, don’t suffer in silence. Contact our office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Staten today.