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Headaches And TMD/TMJ Relief From Toronto's Dental Expert Dr. Aksana Tkachenko
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What are the symptoms?
Headaches and tmd/tmj relief with Toronto’s Expert Dr. Aksana Tkachenko
Headaches, jaw pain, and bruxism are all commonly caused by TMD, or Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, a common condition that affects the TMJ (temporomandibular joint), which is located on both sides of your face, directly in front of each ear.
Essentially, these joints connect your jawbone to your skull. However, because they can rotate, move forward, backward, or side to side, the temporomandibular joint is considered one of the most complex joints in the entire human body. These movements are made thanks to a combination of ligaments and muscles which allow us to speak, chew, swallow, and open our mouths. When an individual has a problem with their temporomandibular joint, they're said to have TMD.
Symptoms of TMD typically include pain or tenderness in or around either ear, the jaw, face, or temples. These symptoms are commonly observed with popping, clicking, or crunching noises while you're chewing, yawning, or simply opening or closing your mouth.
Additionally, TMD is often associated with neck pain or headaches. Therefore, if you're experiencing any of these conditions, you must consult with your dentist as soon as possible.
Schedule Your Free Consultation today.
Pain in your neck, jaw, or face can be excruciating, and the situation is only made worse when you're not even sure what's causing it. Typically, however, if you're experiencing this type of pain, it's likely being caused by an issue with your temporomandibular joint, which connects the upper and low jawbones.
To help you understand if you're experiencing TMD, it's important to know what signs and symptoms to be on the lookout for.
The most common symptoms of TMD include, but are not limited to:
- Pain, swelling, or tenderness in your jaw
- Neck or shoulder pain
- Facial pain
- Swelling on one or both sides of the face
- Pain in or surrounding your ears
- Pain or discomfort while chewing
- Frequent toothaches
- Headaches, often associated with dizziness
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Difficulty opening or closing your mouth
- Locked jaw, which makes it difficult to open or close your mouth
- Clicking, popping, crunching, or grinding noise while opening or closing the mouth
While TMD symptoms are easily recognizable, determining what's causing the condition isn't so simple. Your dentist may not even be able to tell you precisely what's causing the condition.
- Arthritis or damage to the cartilage
- Jaw injury (typically from whiplash or a severe impact)
- Chronic bruxism (clenching or grinding teeth)
- Stress or anxiety that causes you to tighten facial and jaw muscles
- Poor posture
- Chewing gum too often
- Other connective tissue diseases that affect the TMJ
- Got a question about TMD/TMJ? Schedule your free consultation today.
Relieving Headaches Associated With TMD/TMJ
Typically, temporomandibular disorder (TMD) is caused by a combination of factors, such as injury or diseases like arthritis. Stress and the clenching or grinding of teeth are often said to worsen the symptoms of TMD.
Additionally, dentures or certain habits, such as chewing one's fingernails, are often associated with the condition. However, it's usually unclear if these are the cause or the result of the condition itself. The level of occlusion (bite) that a person has may also cause TMD symptoms in some, but not all, individuals.
For instance, some individuals with minor occlusions experience severe TMD symptoms, while others with major occlusal issues won't show any TMD signs whatsoever.
Finally, the temporomandibular joint's resistance can also play a role in TMD. Incidentally, women suffer from TMD more often than men. With that said, a detailed examination will provide your dentist with the information needed to establish the most appropriate treatment.
Typically, the symptoms of TMD are resolved without any actual treatment. However, to ease the symptoms, patients may try gently massaging the jaw muscles or placing either a hot or cold compress on their jaw. Additionally, sticking to a soft diet or cutting your food into smaller pieces can help alleviate the symptoms. It’s also best to avoid hard, sticky or chewy food.
At the same time, we recommend relaxing your jaws as much as possible and not opening your mouth too wide, especially when yawning.
When your jaw is perfectly relaxed, your teeth should be just slightly separated, your tongue should be resting on the bottom of your palette just in front of your bottom teeth, and your lips should either be just touching or slightly separated. Other than when you're chewing, speaking, or swallowing, there should always be a slight gap between your lower and upper teeth.
If you're having trouble keeping your jaw relaxed, many find it helpful to put the tip of their tongue just behind their upper front teeth. This works to create a "natural splint," which will pressure the jaw muscles.
Additionally, many people clench or grind their teeth at night. This problem is often exacerbated by stress, which tends to disrupt our sleep. In this case, the best treatment is generally to adhere to a better sleep regimen, which should reduce night-time clenching, alleviating the symptoms of TMD.
After a thorough oral examination, which typically includes x-rays, your dentist will be able to determine the most appropriate course of treatment for you.
In many cases, a nightguard, or occlusal splint, may be recommended. These are typically made of clear plastic, which will prevent you from grinding your teeth together while you sleep. In turn, the splint will also keep your teeth slightly separated, which will help your jaw relax while it is worn.
In some cases, an upper and lower splint will be recommended. However, a detailed exam is needed to determine if this is the case. If the issue is being caused by occlusion, wearing a splint will typically reduce symptoms over the first few days and weeks.
Alternatively, if the issue is caused by cartilage or bone degeneration from arthritis, wearing a splint will often partially reduce symptoms by reducing the force applied to the joint.
In some cases, TMD is the result of a poorly fitting denture or partial denture. Therefore, amending the appliance may also help reduce symptoms.
For those who continue to suffer from TMD symptoms, we may be able to refer you to a specialist who deals with severe cases of the condition. This might be an oral surgeon, depending on your condition's severity.
Regardless, as we've already mentioned, a thorough exam is the best course of action, allowing you to determine the best treatment for you.
Here at Chroma Dental, we truly understand the pain and discomfort associated with the symptoms of TMD, which is precisely why we're dedicated to helping you find relief as soon as possible.
Contact us today!
Why Choose CHROMA DENTAL™?
As one of the North York leading dentistries, Chroma Dental’s primary goal and vision is to serve our patients with the best dental care currently available in Toronto.
Not only does this mean that we strive to offer a pleasant experience to each patient, but we are also committed to treating them using cutting edge tools and techniques, as well as educating them on the best ways to care for their teeth.
In other words, we strive to make every visit to our office as safe, comfortable, and enjoyable as possible.
A Team You Can Count On
This is precisely why Dr. Aksana Tkachenko's team is highly skilled and dedicated to you, our valued patient, at all times.
From our friendly, professional dentists, hygienists, assistants, and the rest of our staff, everyone in our practice is committed to their role in providing you with an extremely enjoyable experience when you come in for a visit.
We take care of our team, so they can work tirelessly to make Chroma Dental the go-to dental clinic in the region when it comes to friendly, professional oral care.