You want to get out of bed. You want to join your family and friends, but you can’t.
You have another migraine.
Light, sound … everything seems to make the pain worse. You feel like you are missing out on making memories, but the headaches keep happening. And lately, they seem to be getting worse.
It doesn’t help that work has been more stressful than usual. Your company had to let someone go in your department and shortly thereafter another of your co-workers quit. Now, those of you who are left are feeling the stress of covering the work of two full-time employees.
It’s enough to make you grind your teeth together … and that may be the problem.
Bruxism — clenching and grinding your teeth — can be a factor in TMJ disorders, and one of the symptoms of TMJ can be headaches, including migraines.
TMJ disorders can be complex, both in terms of what causes them and in terms of how it affects you.
Our dentists may be able to help. If you live near Raleigh, Cary, Chapel Hill, or Durham, call the nearest Sunrise Dental to find out if we can help.
The Many Causes Of TMJ Disorders
In order to understand this condition, you first need to understand what the TMJ is.
TMJ is a shorthand way of referring to your temporomandibular joint. Place your fingers on your face, just below your ears. If you open and close your mouth, you should feel these joints moving.
Each one is a ball-and-socket joint where your mandible (your lower jaw) connects to your skull. This joint and the muscles and ligaments connected to it affect your jaw movement.
Unfortunately, a number of factors can affect the joint and the surrounding tissues.
It won’t surprise you to learn that injuries can affect your jaw. A direct impact or even an indirect blow that causes violent, involuntary movements of your head and neck can affect the alignment of your jaw.
Infections and diseases can directly impact the tissues around the jaw. For example, inflammation can lead to swelling, which could limit movement. Situations in which your mouth is held open for extended periods of time can be a factor as well
If you’ve ever suffered from arthritis, then you know it can cause your joints to feel stiff and painful. Well, the TMJ is a joint, so it too can be affected by arthritis.
And as we noted above, clenching or grinding your teeth can be a favor. Studies have shown that people who grind their teeth can place twice as much pressure (or more) on their joint and the surrounding tissue.
Stress is frequently related to teeth grinding. It does not matter if you do this knowingly while you are awake or involuntarily in your sleep. The effects are the same on you.
The Effects Of TMJ
Put your fingers on your TMJ again. Putting added stress on this joint and the surrounding tissue can cause headaches and earaches. That does seem surprising once you know where those joints are located.
Other kinds of pain are common, too. Pain in your face, neck, and shoulders are other ways this can manifest itself.
If bruxism or jaw alignment are factors in your condition, then Sunrise Dental may be able to help. We can create a mouthguard that will keep your top and bottom teeth separated.
This mouthguard also can be used to adjust the position of your jaw to alleviate the extra pressure you may be generating.
You may want to try some other treatments on your own. For instance, you may want to try eating soft foods for a short time to see if that relieves your pain.
If mobility is a problem, use a moist, warm heat against your jaw. You may want to try applying ice or a cold pack if swelling is a problem.
If stress is an underlying factor, we would encourage you to learn new techniques for managing that pressure. You may want to exercise or learn some breathing techniques to help you relax. (You also may want to avoid alcohol or caffeine close the time you go to bed at night.)
What We Can Do
Sunrise Dental can help by examining your jaw to look for signs of trouble in or around your joint. If we see evidence of teeth grinding, we can take steps to help alleviate that problem, including making a custom-make mouthpiece for you.
The first step is getting help. Call our dentists in Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Cary, or Durham or use the online form for that office to make an appointment today.