One of the biggest parts of my job is finding ways to keep patients out of pain or relieve their dental pains. Dental pains, as you might know, can be some of the most fierce and unbearable pain imaginable. When a patient comes to me in pain, I empathize with their problem and work to solve the issue as quickly and gently as possible.
Some dental pains can be obvious. Root pains or an abscessed can be a sign that you may need a root canal. However, sometimes a dentist is best to treat other types of points as well, like joint and neck pains and headaches. Sounds crazy, right? Well, it’s not at all. There is a dental reason why so many Americans experience constant neck and joint pains.
What’s Causing Your Headaches and Neck Pains?
At this point, you might be raising your eyebrows, but years of research and advancements in technology have shown that your jaw could be the culprit for headaches and neck pains. The problem often lies with the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ. When the TMJ is out of position – or not in the most appropriate position – this misalignment can have a drastic affect on your bite and oral health. With the strain of the TMJ, patients often experience pain in their face and neck, and even frequent headaches. This misalignment of the TMJ can also cause patients to grind their teeth or clinch, a medical condition known as bruxism.
Most patients grind or clench their teeth at night. If most of us sleep for eight hours every night, that would mean people with bruxism likely clench or grind their teeth for hours every single day. It’s no wonder that they wake up with pain throughout their bodies! If left untreated, TMJ issues can cause permanent damage to the your teeth and jawbone. I’ve seen patients with TMJ issues who have worn down their teeth or substantially weakened the enamel of their teeth. The enamel is the toughest substance in the body and it protects the inner tissue of the tooth, so permanent damage to the enamel can set the stage for serious dental problems down the road.
How We Diagnose and Treat TMD
When you first visit our office, we offer a comprehensive examination that will allow me to see all of the issues inside of your mouth and to discuss any possible treatments. By using state-of-the-art technology and through an oral exam, we can tell if you are having TMJ problems. Sometimes patients have wear and tear on their teeth caused by grinding or clenching, or sometimes patients have inflammation in their jaw muscles. Whatever the cause, there is a quick and pain-free way to treat your TMJ issues and relieve your headaches and joint pains.
A custom nightguard is a great treatment for patients suffering from TMJ issues. This mouthguard might sound basic, but it serves two key functions. First, it relieves the pressure from the teeth, and secondly, it moves the jaw into a more appropriate position. By moving the lower jaw in a better position, the mouthguard prevents you from grinding or clenching your teeth. My patients typically get used to the mouthguard in only a few nights and have their symptoms disappear in the same time period! It’s amazing to see the transformation. Patients come into the office with shoulder and neck pains and excruciating headaches and see their symptoms resolved in just a few short days. They sleep better and feel better in the morning.
Untreated TMJ issues have have serious affects on your health. Ignoring the problem can lead to more serious jaw issues or problems with your teeth. Patients who grind or clench their teeth risk fracturing their teeth or causing their teeth to fail or wear down. It’s possible for bruxism to lead to decay, root canals or tooth fractures.
We examine patients for signs of TMJ issues as part of our thorough preventative care. We take a look at the teeth, the jawbone and any other dental issues you might have. If you’re suffering from neck pains or headaches and physicians have not been able to pinpoint the source, schedule an appointment with our office. After one quick visit, I can assess your jaw and set you up with a treatment that will relieve those headaches for good.
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