TMJ, Headaches and Occlusion

What is occlusion?

Your dental occlusion is the way your teeth meet together when they bite.

What is TMJ?

The letters T.M.J. Are an abbreviation of temporomandibular joint, which is the joint between your jaw and your skull. Movement in this joint enables you to open and close your mouth and chew from side to side.

What are occlusal problems?

If your teeth don’t fit together properly, then you can get problems in any of the structures that are involved in your bite, the teeth themselves, the gums, the temporomandibular joint or the muscles that move the jaw.

Teeth: Teeth that are misplaced, heavily worn or constantly breaking, fillings that fracture or crowns that work loose may all be signs of occlusal problems. The teeth may be tender whilst chewing or may ache.

Gums: Loosening of teeth or gum recession can be aggravated by a faulty bite.

TMJ: Clicking, grinding or pain in your jaw joints, ringing or buzzing in your ears, difficulty in opening or closing your mouth could all be due to your teeth not meeting each other properly.

Muscles: If your jaw is in the wrong position, the muscles that move your jaw will have to work a lot harder and can get tired and go into spasm. The main symptoms are chronic headaches or migraine, especially first thing in the morning, pain behind your eyes, sinus and in you neck and shoulders. Sometime even back muscles are involved.

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How can I tell if I have occlusal problems?:

  1. Are you aware of clenching or grinding your teeth? (Most people who do are not aware that they do). This may be related to anxiety, but generally most people clench when they are concentrating while they are doing something with their hands, i.e. household, gardening, car mechanics, typing etc.
  2. Do you wake up in the morning with an awareness about your teeth or jaw as if you had been clenching or grinding them in sleep? Most people who grind their teeth do so when asleep and may be unaware of it.
  3. Do you have chronic headaches or chronic head, neck, shoulder pain?
  4. Do you have recurring pain or discomfort on the side of your face around your ears or jawjoints?
  5. Have you ever had clicking or popping in your jaw joints or difficulty in moving your jaw?
  6. Have you lost some teeth at the back your mouth? This may lead to your bite becoming unbalanced.
  7. Have you ever had an earache without any ear infection?
  8. Do you have sensitive teeth without any signs of dental problems?

How do I get any occlusal problems treated?

Firstly call or email us at Stardent! Depending on the problems you are having, it is possible to detect evidence of an occlusal problems. Various muscles may be sore when tested, or the broken and worn arrears of your teeth will show you are grinding your teeth, a common sign of an incorrect bite. If we suspect that your problems are due to an incorrect bite, we may be able to diagnose the problem by supplying a hard plastic appliance that fits over upper or lower teeth.

The appliance needs to be measured and fitted very accurately so that when you bite on it, all your teeth meet at exactly the same time in a position where your muscles are relaxed. You may have to wear this all the time, or just at night. In simple cases you may not need to wear an appliance. For more severe cases we may also use Acupuncture to help relieve your symptoms.

If the appliance relieves your symptoms then your bite will need to be corrected permanently.

This can be done by:

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 reposition the jaw. Replacement of defective restoration that prevent the jaws from moving properly.

Orthodontics - If your teeth are too far out of line, or in a totally incorrect bite it may be necessary to fit a brace to move them into a better position.

Replacement of missing teeth - The joint needs equal support from both sides of the jaws. The chewing action is designed to work properly only when all the teeth are present and in correct position. Missing teeth may need to be replaced either with a partial denture, bridge work or implants. Replacements are not usually carried out until diagnosis is confirmed by use of an appliance and the symptoms fully relieved. Relief in some patients is instant, in others it can take a long time.

Medication - Some drugs can help in certain cases but usually on a temporary basis. Diet and exercise As with any joint pain, reduced stress, i.e. a soft diet, corrective exercises, posture training and external heat can be usefull in certain cases.

Why me? Up to 1 in 4 people may have some symptoms and both men and women are affected equally, although women tend to seek treatment more often than men. Many people have imperfect occlusion and missing teeth and never have symptoms because they adjust to their problems. Occasionally, in times of increased stress and Tension, the symptoms may occure and then go away again immediately.Alternatively, another link in the chain breaks down and instead of headaches occurring you may suffer from:

  • Flattened worn teeth
  • Broken teeth,filling and crowns
  • loose teeth
  • continual sensitivity of your teeth to temperature changes
  • Toothache with no apparent cause

Don’t forget, you can call or email us at stardent for more information, or to book your free consultation.

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02381 530430