TMJ (JAW AND HEADACHE PROBLEMS)
Q What is dental occlusion?
A Dental occlusion is another name for the way your teeth meet when your jaws bite together.
Q What is TMJ?
A The letters TMJ are short for of ‘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.
Q What kind of problems might I have?
A 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 first thing in the morning; pain behind your eyes; sinus pain and pains in your neck and shoulders. Sometimes even back muscles are involved.
Q How can I tell if I have a problem?
A You may find that you clench or grind your teeth, although most people who do aren’t aware of it. Sometimes can be caused by anxiety, but generally most people clench their teeth when they are concentrating on a task - housework, gardening, car mechanics, typing and so on.
Q How are occlusal problems treated?
A See your dentist. He or she may be able to help you or may refer you to a specialist who deals with occlusal problems.
Tooth Adjustment (equilibration)
Your teeth may need to be carefully adjusted to meet evenly. Changing the direction and position of the slopes that guide your teeth together can often help to reposition the jaw.
Replacement of teeth
The temporo-mandibular joint needs equal support from both sides of both jaws. The chewing action is designed to work properly only when all your teeth are present and in the correct position. Missing teeth may need to be replaced either with a partial denture or bridgework.
Some drugs can help in certain cases, but this is usually only temporary. Hormone replacement therapy may also help some women.
Diet and Exercise
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.
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.
Q Will straightening my teeth help?
A 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.
Q How many people suffer from these problems?
A Up to 1 in 4 people may have some symptoms. Both men and women are affected equally, although women tend to seek
If you think you have any of these problems, ask your dentist.