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Imagine a small home on the outskirts of Durham, NC. It’s Saturday morning. Children are playing in the backyard.
Dad is in the garage working on something. He’s always got some do-it-yourself home improvement project in the works.
In the master bedroom, mom is laying in bed with the lights off and trying to block out the Sun and the noises coming from other parts of the house. This isn’t where she wants to be, but her headaches — her migraines — have gotten worse.
On top of that, her jaw is sore. The pain relievers she’s taken don’t really do much to help, either.
She may be suffering from a TMJ disorder. It may be time to call the dentists at Sunrise Dental. They have an office in her area, and three others in Raleigh, Cary, and Chapel Hill.
Headaches And Your Jaw
One of the difficulties with TMJ disorder is that some of the symptoms, such as frequent headaches, can also be caused by other things. You may be dealing with TMJ problems without realizing it.
Believe it or not, stress often plays a factor TMJ disorders. Let’s consider our mom from Durham for a moment.
She may be feeling extra pressure to perform at work since one of her co-workers accepted another job recently. As a result, she’s been assigned some additional work that she wasn’t expecting to have.
At home, she is struggling with how to bring up her husband’s serial project. She appreciates that he wants to make the house nice, but his projects aren’t always cheap. She wants him to consider cutting back on the projects so they can put more aside for their kids’ college funds.
And that’s another trouble spot for her. She feels guilty about spending her Saturday morning avoiding her family. She wants to spend time with them but her headaches make it difficult to handle the normal sounds of everyday life.
That adds to her stress, which adds to her headaches, which … you understand.
So what does this have to do with her jaw?
Well, many people with TMJ disorders will clench or grind their teeth together. This can be an unconscious response to stressful situations. It may be something they do in their sleep. They may even do both without realizing it.
The Effects Of Teeth Grinding
Teeth clenching and grinding puts extra stress on your temporomandibular joint, which many people abbreviate to TMJ. If you hold your fingers near your ears, you can feel this joint move as you open and close your mouth.
When you grind your teeth together, you may be generating forces of 500 pounds or more — double the force that an average person creates with a bite. If our mom from Durham is doing this, then she is putting added strain on her TMJ as well as the surrounding muscle tissues.
This can explain the headaches, the jaw pain, and possibly other symptoms, such as:
From a dental standpoint, grinding your teeth can wear down the protective enamel. This can expose your teeth to greater risks of tooth decay and other problems, too.
To put it simply, it’s in our mom’s best interest to find out if she grinds her teeth and if that may be contributing to the headaches that are keeping her from spending time with her family.
How We Can Help
At Sunrise Dental, we have helped several patients seeking a solution for TMJ troubles. We can do this with a couple types of oral appliances.
A bite guard can prevent your top and bottom teeth from touching one another. This means you won’t be able to grind your teeth together.
Another option is a deprogrammer. You could think of this as physical therapy for your jaw. It will “train” your jaw to rest in a different position. This can alleviate the extra pressure caused by clenching and grinding.
We can make a custom oral appliance for our mom from Durham that she can wear at night, too.
Is It Time To Treat Your TMJ?
If you can relate to the TMJ and teeth grinding struggle described above, then you may want to call us, too. Sunrise Dental has four convenient locations around the Triangle.
If we can help with your headaches and your TMJ disorder, we will do everything we can to help. But we can’t do that unless you make an appointment by calling or filling out the online form for one of our offices.
- Facial soreness and tenderness
- Neck and shoulder pains
- Limited jaw mobility