Chronic Headaches? You May Have TMD

Do you have Chronic Headaches?

Do you suffer from chronic headaches, aching muscles in the face, locking of the jaw, trouble opening or closing or even clicking noises? You May Have TMD…TMD is Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction – this is a condition that causes mechanical movement of the joint to become faulty.

The temporomandibular joint (also known as the TMJ or jaw joint) is the most complex joint in the human body.  It is not simply a hinge, opening and closing like most joints, but instead we call it a “hinge and slide” joint.  The first small fraction of opening is pure hinge movement but then the mandibular head (top of the lower jaw fitting into the joint) moves or slides down a slope on the front of the joint cavity while hinging at the same time.  Furthermore there is a fibro-cellular disc over the mandibular head that also moves independently during the “sliding” movement.  With all these independent movements, there are several mechanical interferences or parts that can become damaged, torn or strained leading to pain in or around the joint, muscular pain, headaches, swelling, locking open or closed or clicking.

Some contributing factors of TMD are:

  • Injury to the TMJ from impact on the jaw or the side of the head
  • Grinding or clenching of the teeth which puts a lot of pressure on the TMJ and the associated structures including the muscles, ligaments and the fibro cellular disc
  • Abnormal movement of the fibro-cellular disc between the mandibular head and socket
  • Presence of osteoarthritis in the TMJ
  • Stress can cause a person to tighten facial and jaw muscles and thereby clench the teeth

As a result of the common predisposing factors for TMD, the ligaments, disc and muscles associated with the joint may become inflamed.  This results in swelling and often shortening of the posterior ligament.  The consequence of this is like “tethering” of the disc from posteriorly and during opening the disc is held back and pops off the mandibular head.  This can result in a joint noise that is relatively quiet.  However when the jaw closes, the disc is re-captured by the mandibular head with a consequent click when the disc becomes momentarily trapped between the mandibular head and the anterior joint slope of the joint cavity.  Such irregularities can lead to:

  • Facial pain
  • TMJ pain
  • Joint clicking
  • Joint locking
  • Referred pain which may feel like a chronic headache, neck ache or even shoulder or back pain
  • Sore and tired muscles in the face and neck
  • Limited ability to open the mouth very wide

Some other known symptoms of TMD are dizziness, hearing problems, ringing or popping in the ears and commonly upper shoulder pain.

Diagnosing TMD…

There are a number of other conditions that have similar symptoms; such as ear, nose and throat conditions, arthritis of the TMJ, sinus problems or neuralgia. For this reason a thorough physical examination of the head and neck muscles and some muscle attachments in the mouth will be examined.   The TMJ will be gently palpated and in some conditions it may be necessary to listen for joint sounds during movement (popping, clicking, grinding).

If need be, detailed TMJ imaging may be obtained using specialised X-ray equipment or a 3D CT scan may be taken.

Treating TMD…

Once the cause or causes of TMD have been identified, there are a variety of treatment options available. Very rarely is surgery required.

We are an experienced team who are able to provide you with the highest levels of care with our modern techniques, materials and equipment available.

At NQ Surgical Dentistry it is our ultimate goal when it comes to patient care to always exceed your expectations. We work closely with you to make sure that you understand the nature of your dental problem and the ways in which we are able to help you.

How NQ Surgical Dentistry is Different…

Generally, if patients require surgical dentistry, including dental surgery, gum surgery, implant surgery or non-surgical management of conditions such as TMD or gum disease, they would need a referral from a doctor or dentist.  Patients do not need a referral to attend NQ Surgical Dentistry: you can make an appointment directly with us.

For more information on our range of TMD treatments or surgical and non-surgical treatment available at NQ Surgical Dentistry, book an appointment at our conveniently located dental practice in Townsville. We look forward to helping you.

contact the friendly team at NQ Surgical Dentistry today on (07) 4725 1656 or call in to see us at 183 Kings Rd, Pimlico QLD 4812

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