One of the most common causes of migraines and jaw pain is Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, which also goes by the acronyms TMJ, TMD, or TMJD.
What is the Temporomandibular Joint?
Your temporomandibular joint is the ball and socket joint where your jaw and skull connect. It’s located in front of each ear.
The TMJ is the most frequently used joint in the body. It controls common functions like biting, chewing, and talking.
TMJ usually develops when teeth don’t fit together properly, resulting in a bad bite. This places strain on your head muscles and the temporomandibular joint. TMJ shows up as jaw, face, neck, or shoulder pain, and tension headaches or migraines.
Causes of TMJ Disorder:
Effects of TMJ Disorder
In addition to severe discomfort and pain, untreated TMJ Disorder can also do significant damage to your teeth, jaw, and jaw muscles.
An unbalanced bite essentially results in a war between your jaw muscles and teeth. If the muscles win, this will cause rapid tooth wear. If the teeth win, you will experience muscle tension, stress, and headaches. Untreated TMJ disorder can also lead to muscle cramping, sprained ligaments, dislocated and torn discs, and cartilage degeneration.
TMJ Disorder can cause irreversible damage if left untreated. Even if your smile looks perfect from the front, discomfort and pain are signs that something is wrong, and should be taken seriously.
If you suffer from a few or more of the following symptoms, reach out to your dentist. You may be experiencing TMJ Disorder.
TMJ Disorder Symptoms include:
There are many TMJ treatment options available today. Here, we break down 3 of the most common treatment options.
Surgery is an option as a last resort. However, since most pain comes from the muscles, there are many options to relieve pain without resorting to surgery. Many people also wish to avoid invasive treatment options like surgery.
2. Pain Relievers and Muscle Relaxants
On the other end of the spectrum, pain relievers or muscle relaxants are often prescribed to decrease pain and discomfort. However, this band-aid approach only masks the pain, and does not cure the underlying issues.
If you are relying on a quick fix like painkillers to mask your symptoms, this is usually a sign that you have a muscular imbalance that needs long-term help.
3. Holistic Care
You need a care plan that alleviates your symptoms and addresses the root causes of your TMJ disorder.
Your best option? Holistic care, grounded in a neuromuscular approach.
What is neuromuscular dentistry?
Neuromuscular dentistry is a holistic approach to TMJ disorders. While traditional approaches to TMJ disorders usually only consider the function of teeth and bones, neuromuscular dentistry also accounts for soft tissues like muscles and tendons.
Benefits of Neuromuscular Dentistry
Neuromuscular dentistry allows your dentist to find the jaw’s ideal position for your jaw.
This can reduce or eliminate jaw pain, while also reducing damage and wear to your teeth.
At Boger Dental, we focus on correcting the origin of TMJ problems, rather than simply masking the symptoms. That’s why the neuromuscular approach informs every stage of our treatment process.
“Neuromuscular dentistry is a paradigm shift in the way TMJ is treated. The power of neuromuscular dentistry is that it allows you to find the best bite - for the teeth, the jaw, and the soft tissue. Headaches, migraines, and face pain are very treatable, and the data shows that neuromuscular dentistry is a powerful tool to fix many of these problems.” - Dr. Chad Boger, DD
What can you expect from TMJ treatment at Boger Dental? Here are 5 stages of treatment.
Sometimes, simple home remedies can stop TMJ in its tracks before it becomes a chronic, debilitating problem.
Remember, if your symptoms worsen, stop treatment and consult a medical professional immediately.
Looking for more at-home remedies? Check out this blog post to learn three more steps for TMJ pain relief >>
If your TMJ symptoms do not disappear and worsen, it’s time to visit the dentist.
Your dentist will ask about your experience with TMJ symptoms, factors that aggravate and relieve symptoms, and past treatments you’ve tried. Your dentist may also use several different types of technology to help diagnose your TMJ disorder.
Then, your dentist will develop a specialized treatment plan to realign your bite and shift your teeth to their optimal location.
Do you suffer from dental anxiety? You’re not alone! But this fear doesn’t have to hold you back. Ask your dentist about sedation options for dental anxiety. Learn more here.
Depending on your specific symptoms and diagnosis, your dentist may refer you to another specialist as part of your treatment plan. These specialists may include:
4. Bite Guard
Many people who experience TMJ disorder clench and grind their teeth, causing lasting damage. Your dentist may recommend a bite guard to protect your teeth.
There are many different guards available today, from over-the-counter options to custom guards fitted for your comfort.
5. Neuromuscular Dentistry
If you have tried all of the options listed above, but the pain persists, it’s time to consider neuromuscular treatment options.
Neuromuscular dentistry is a holistic approach to treating TMJ disorders that focuses on addressing the root causes of your disorder, not just masking symptoms.
Neuromuscular dentists consider the function of your joints, teeth, and bones as well as supporting soft tissue like muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
The goal? Finding your optimal bite. This will reduce or eliminate TMJ pain, while reducing wear and damage to your teeth.
Stage 1: Temporary Orthotics
After diagnosing your TMJ, your dentist will make a temporary orthotic/ night guard designed to eliminate clenching and grinding as well as TMJ pain and dysfunction.
You’ll wear this orthotic for a minimum of two months as your mouth adjusts to a new position and your dentist makes additional adjustments to refine your bite.
Stage 2: Bite Stabilization
Once your optimal bite has been achieved, your dentist will find a long-term strategy to maintain this bite. There are three main treatment options:
Neuromuscular dentistry offers a long-term solution to eliminate headaches, jaw pain, and other issues associated with TMJ. If you suffer from TMJ, neuromuscular dentistry may be the solution you need to fix your bite and start living again.
What Should You Look for in a TMJ Dentist?
What should you look for in a TMJ dentist? In addition to finding an expert in neuromuscular dentistry, you’ll also want to look for a dentist with a commitment to continuing education and a co-treatment model of care.
What is co-treatment? It’s the idea that your care should be based on a partnership between you and your dentist, not handed down from the top without your input. Your dentist brings their expertise to the table, and you bring your first-hand knowledge of your symptoms. Learn more about what to look for in a TMJ dentist in this blog post. >>
Schedule an Appointment Today!
At Boger Dental, our TMJ specialist is Dr. Chad Boger. According to Dr. Boger, “the main benefit of treating TMJ, migraines, headaches, and face pain using neuromuscular dentistry is that you are treating the primary cause of the dysfunction and pain, not masking the symptoms.” You can learn more about our dentists who specialize in this area here.
Don’t put up with pain any longer. Schedule an appointment today!
To find out more about TMJ therapy and how it can alleviate your pain and provide headache relief, please request a consultation online. If you'd rather speak on the phone, call (763) 546-7707. If you prefer email, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll be happy to help!