young adult woman holding her jaw in pain

If you have jaw pain and headaches, you may need a dentist in Wilmington, NC that has experience diagnosing and treating TMJ, which stands for “temporomandibular joint.” TMD stands for “temporomandibular joint disorder” and is often used interchangeably with TMJ to describe a condition that may present a whole host of symptoms in addition to jaw pain and headache. Here are just some of the most common symptoms that TMJ may cause:

  • Jaw pain
  • Headache
  • Tightness in the jaw
  • Neck pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Upper back pain
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Fullness in the ears
  • Clicking/popping noises in the jaw when eating or talking
  • Grinding/clenching/gnashing of the teeth (bruxism)
  • Locked jaw

What is so perplexing about TMD is that these symptoms seem to be unrelated at first glance. How does back pain have anything to do with a disorder of the jaw joint? How on Earth is your neck pain related to something going on in your jaw? Because these symptoms sometimes just don’t fit, TMJ/TMD often goes undiagnosed, and the longer any medical condition goes undiagnosed, the longer people suffer.

A Wilmington, NC dentist has the advanced technology to not only diagnose TMJ but also treat TMJ, so why suffer any longer? There are a number of different treatments available for patients with TMD, beginning on the very conservative side with massage and following a spectrum to surgery, which is reserved for the most extreme cases of TMD. All you have to do is take that first step and contact a North Carolina dentist who provides TMJ treatment.

TMJ and Jaw Pain

Jaw pain is definitely the most common symptom of TMJ, and almost every single person with TMJ has pain in their jaw to some degree. There are a few different types of jaw pain, and how the pain is described is related to where the pain originates: muscles, bones and teeth, joints, or nerves.

For instance, jaw pain originating in the muscles is the most common and will feel like sore muscles and fatigue. This type of jaw pain will often be described as a dull, aching, throbbing pain that comes and goes or is constant. Jaw pain that originates in the muscles will often worsen when chewing, talking, or exercising; it may affect one or both sides of the face.

Jaw pain originating in the bones and teeth occurs when the overworked muscles of the face and jaw put excess pressure on the bones and teeth. Jaw pain of the bones and teeth will also be described as a dull, throbbing pain.

Jaw pain originating in the joint may result in clicking or popping noises in the jaw joints and can lead to swelling and burning. In severe cases of jaw pain from the joint, your jaw may even lock up.

Jaw pain in the nerves will likely not feel like a dull ache but more like sharp electric shocks. This type of pain in the jaw may come and go or it may be constant. Jaw pain in the nerves may also cause numbness, dizziness, or tinnitus.

TMJ and Headaches

There are so many different types of headaches, and their intensity and frequency greatly vary from patient to patient. You may experience a daily headache, or you may get them only occasionally. Regardless of their frequency and intensity, headaches can certainly ruin your day, and for many people, headaches ruin lives. If you’ve been dealing with TMJ and headaches in Wilmington, North Carolina, you may be a great candidate for neuromuscular dentistry in the Tar Heel State.

The cause of headaches must be known in order to treat them effectively; a TMJ diagnosis is often missed in the medical arena. If the cause of the headache is not known, then proper treatment for the headache cannot be prescribed.

Tension headaches are the most common type of headache associated with TMJ, and tension headache sufferers will describe a feeling of “pulling” or of their head being constricted.

TMJ and migraine headaches are linked, but how exactly remains to be clearly understood. One thing that is known for sure is that the tension headaches associated with TMD often cause irritation of the Trigeminal Nerve, which is the part of the nervous system responsible for sending signals from the face to the brain. The Trigeminal Nerve is where migraines start, so when this very large three-part cranial nerve is irritated, your body will likely respond with a migraine headache.

Neuromuscular dentistry in Wilmington, NC, looks at all the components of the jaw and evaluates the functioning of the teeth, jaw joints, and muscles. The goal is to place your jaw in its optimal position to allow your teeth to align and keep the face, neck, and shoulders relaxed.

TMJ Treatment

Once a Wilmington, NC dentist has diagnosed TMJ, treatment can begin right away. You may be a great candidate for conservative treatment, such as an occasional massage or a few sessions of TENS (transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation), or maybe you’d benefit from a combination of the two.

A bite splint, also known as an oral appliance, may work for you as it holds your jaw in its place and is worn at night or during the day. Restorations of your teeth may be deteriorating, so a restorative dentistry procedure may be necessary to put your jaw back to its optimal position. You may need a dental crown, root canal, or dental implant to relieve your TMJ symptoms.

Full mouth reconstruction is considered when more conservative measures don’t produce the desired results. A full mouth reconstruction will take the form of a variety of restorative procedures (and maybe some cosmetic dentistry procedures, also). Each treatment plan is custom designed following a thorough evaluation using the most innovative neuromuscular dentistry technology available today.

Get Relief From TMJ, Jaw Pain, and Headaches in Wilmington, NC

Kuzma Advanced Dentistry in Wilmington is ready to change your life by diagnosing a complex condition known simply as TMJ. Please call our office (910) 392-6060 or tell us how we can help by submitting our online contact form. One of our dental team members will reach out shortly.