If you have recently begun waking up with chronic headaches or jaw pain, you may have temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) which affects your jaw joints. Other symptoms include earache and facial pain that can extend into your neck and shoulders. It’s a condition often associated with teeth clenching and grinding, which is a problem called bruxism. TMJ disorder can occur if the relationship between your upper and lower jaw isn’t correct because this places unwanted stress on your jaw joints and facial muscles, causing pain and inflammation. Neuromuscular dentistry is a way of treating this disorder.
If you think you may have TMJ disorder, you will need a dental examination so we can gently examine your jaws, including the range of movement, and a CT scan can show any damage and inflammation in your jaw joints. We can also assess your teeth to see if you have signs of wear and tear indicating bruxism. Treatment for TMJ focuses on stabilising the bite and relieving pain and inflammation. Many different therapies can help this condition, and one of the least invasive is a night splint, a custom-made device that fits over your teeth, placing your jaw in the correct position and preventing your teeth from clenching and grinding. Other possible treatments include using a TENS unit to relieve painful muscle spasms, or Botox can help painful facial muscles to relax.