Jaw Problems & Headaches
What is dental occlusion?
Dental occlusion is another name for the way your teeth meet when your jaws bite together.
What is TMJ?
The letters TMJ are short for 'temporo-mandibular joint' which is the joint connecting your lower jaw and your skull. The movement in this joint lets you open and close your mouth and chew from side to side.
What kind of problems might I have?
If your teeth don't fit together properly, you can have problems not only in your teeth themselves but also the gums, the temporo- mandibular joint or the muscles that move your jaw. These problems are called 'occlusal' problems.
Teeth that are out of line, heavily worn or constantly breaking, fillings that fracture or crowns that work loose may all be signs of occlusal problems. Your teeth may also be tender to bite on or may ache constantly.
Loose teeth or receding gums can be made worse by a faulty bite.
Clicking, grinding or pain in your jaw joints, ringing or buzzing in your ears and difficulty in opening or closing your mouth could all be due to your teeth not meeting each other properly.
If your jaw is in the wrong position, the muscles that move the jaw have to work a lot harder and can get tired. This leads to muscle spasm. The main symptoms are continual headaches or migraine, especially in the morning; pain behind your eyes; sinus pain and pains in your neck and shoulders. Sometimes even back muscles are involved.
As with any joint pain, it can help to put less stress on the joint. so a soft diet can be helpful, as can corrective exercises and external heat. Physiotherapy exercises can often help, and your dentist may be able to show some of these to you.
Relaxation, counselling and relaxation therapy may help in some cases. these techniques help the patient to become more aware of stressful situations and to control tension.
Will straightening my teeth help?
If your teeth are too far out of line or in a totally incorrect bite position, it may be necessary to fit an orthodontic appliance to move them into a better position.
How many people suffer from these problems?
Up to 1 in 4 people may have some symptoms. Both men and women are affected equally, although women tend to seek treatment more often than men. The symptoms can often start with the menopause or hormonal changes. many people have imperfect occlusion and missing teeth, yet never have symptoms because they adjust to their problems. Occasionally, in times of increased stress and tension, the symptoms may appear and then go away immediately. Or, your teeth and gums may be affected straight away and instead of headaches, you may suffer:
If you think you have any of these problems, ask your dentist.