A common source of headache and facial pain is disease or dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which is where your upper and lower jaws meet and includes the various muscle attachments. The potential for problems can be either in the muscles, bone joint or both.
The more times you answer yes to the following questions, the more likely it is that you suffer from a temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)
Are you aware of grinding or clenching your teeth?
- Do you have frequent headaches or neck aches?
- Does your jaw click, pop or grate when you open or close your mouth?
- Do you experience pain when you open your mouth?
- Does your bite feel “off”?
- Does your jaw ever lock when you try to open or close your mouth?
- Is it becoming difficult to eat solid foods?
- Has your lifestyle suffered because of these problems?
TMJ has many aetiologies, with stress being a main causative agent. This leads to clenching and grinding which affects both the muscles and the TM joint. Other causes include: trauma, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis or other degenerative diseases.
Treatment of pain emanating from the TMJ may range from conservative to complex surgery. Treatment may include placing the jaw at rest, use of moist heat, muscle relaxants and/or pain medications. Usually Dr Bloom will utilise an occlusal “bite” splint to relieve pressure on the TMJ. Stress reduction techniques or therapy may be necessary. The majority of our patients only require conservative therapy, however on rare occasions when this is unsuccessful, or the joint is already damaged, surgery may be indicated.