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25th September 2014

Joint Pain, Migraines and Tooth Grinding

Chronic tooth and joint pain is a condition that is primarily diagnosed and treated by your Dentist. Given that there are just so many structures around the face that could cause pain (e.g. teeth, ears, sinuses, nerves and glands), it is unfortunate that it takes so long to make the correct diagnosis. Bruxism relates to the excessive clenching and grinding of your teeth. Symptoms are very varied and it can cause pain in muscles that help you chew around your cheeks, pain in the joint that opens and closes you mouth, referred pain into the neck, pain around the eyes and temple regions, ear ache, toothache, tiredness, poor sleep, chipped broken teeth or fillings and tooth wear. If you suffer from these symptoms please read on.

What can cause pain?

Stress is the number one reason why patients have non-specific face pain. Acute form (fast onset and high intensity) normally occurs during high stress circumstances often exam times, work related stress, divorce or family deaths. Poor sleeping habits can lead to clenching or grinding of the teeth as the body tries to cope with the stress from the day during your sleep. The muscles often feel tired by the time you wake up. It can often feel like you haven’t slept at all with headaches around the temple and ear regions. The eyes may also feel puffy and the joints feel sore. In extreme cases the joint may lock closed as the joint becomes swollen. Immediate treatment is advised to help treat the cause and symptoms to prevent a locked jaw.

In chronic long standing cases, bruxism is a mild annoyance that continues on and off or many years. The joint can develop a lick when opening and closing but the grinding continues mildly for many years. The teeth can drift and move out of alignment and wear down. Did you know that during the day the teeth rarely contact only contacting for about 15 minutes. During bruxism this figure is measured in hours not minutes and this substantial change is what causes damage. This has been to cause migranes and tension headaches and these CAN BE TREATED.

What can I do about it?

Please speak to your Dentist who will check your teeth to make sure you don’t have toothache chipped or cracked teeth or nerve pain. They will also take a full history about your life, circumstances and origin location duration of the pain. X rays can provide information if there is damage to arthritis affecting the jaw joints (TMJ).

Below is a list of treatments that may be prescribed but please speak to a Dentist and DO NOT self-diagnose!!!!!!!!

Non invasive Treatment:

You may try the following to see if they help reduce your symptoms. This may help your case but not necessarily resolve your problem:

  1. Non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs
  2. Stop chewing gum or eating chewy foods
  3. Cold packs on the joint
  4. Hot packs on the muscles
  5. Keep the teeth apart, do not clench during the day and try avoid habits such as pens.
  6. Jaw exercises
  7. Try not to yawn
  8. Try and reduce your stress, exercises in the evening followed by a hot bath or shower.

Appliance Treatments

There are two types of splints. One is a soft gum shield worn covering all the lower teeth at night. The second is a hard upper bite guard also worn at night. It is much more protective features but is not as comfortable.

Restorative Treatment

We may need to remove a tooth if this is causing dysfunction in you bite. In selected cases this one change can reset your bite. If there is a high filling crown this may need to be adjusted. In more extreme cases the bite may need to be redesigned and rebuilt. In all cases a Bite Splint is prescribed and worn at night to prevent any further damage.

Non specific face pain can be debilitating to those that suffer. Relief is available to those that seek treatment and please remember that …………………..we are here to help you.

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