If you constantly experience headaches or migraines, and you don’t know why, you may suffer from temporomandibular disorder. Also called TMJ or TMD, the condition can also contribute to chronic earaches, jaw pain, shoulder and neck pain, an inability to completely open and close the mouth, and popping or clicking of the jaw joints.

What is TMJ Disorder?

Headaches and Jaw PainTMJs, or temporomandibular joints, are located just behind the innermost teeth in your jaw. They hold the jaw, or mandible, to the skull’s temporal bones – thus the name. Properly aligned TMJ joints allow the mouth to move freely, without pain or problems. Misaligned joints, however, can lead to pain and habitual, involuntary teeth grinding, called bruxism. Stress, injury, tooth wear, tooth damage, jaw malformation, and tooth misalignment can contribute to TMJ disorder. Muscles and nerves around the jaw joints must work overtime to hold the jaw in proper position for normal function if the joints are not aligned correctly. Overstressed muscles and nerves can send pain signals to the brain, and in some cases, the muscles contract during sleep, causing bruxism. Continual clenching and grinding of teeth causes tooth wear and breakage, thus elevating the problem.

How Are TMJ Disorder and Bruxism Treated?

For mild to moderate TMJ disorder, and for bruxism, an oral appliance may help. An NTI appliance, (or another type of bite appliance based on individual needs), usually worn while sleeping, can often relieve the painful and degenerative symptoms of TMJ disorder. If your TMJ pain is not relieved with the NTI appliance, stress relief exercises, or simple habit changes (no gum chewing, for instance), then we may refer you to a specialist.

alleviate chronic headaches and jaw pain

Though bruxism and TMJ disorder aren’t as easily preventable as other common issues, like cavities, you have a better chance of preventing the damage they can cause by maintaining a regular schedule of dental exams and cleanings. To find lasting relief for your chronic headaches and jaw pain, schedule an appointment with your dentist by calling our dental office in Syosset, NY, today at 516-433-2211 or 516-921-6930. We proudly serve the residents of Syosset, Long Island, Nassau, Suffolk, and all surrounding New York City communities.