Category Archives: Jaws
Approximately 40% of otherwise healthy individuals suffer from chronic headaches, and about one in eight North Americans suffers from recurring headaches that are so severe they interfere with normal life. It has been estimated that 80% of all headaches occur from muscle tension. You may be surprised to learn that many tension headaches are related to your bite. It may feel as though you’re wearing a steel hatband, or it may be a dull ache on one or both sides. Your headaches may be dental in origin if you experience:
- Sore jaw muscles when you wake up
- Teeth grinding
- Jaw joints that click or pop
- Head or scalp that’s painful to touch
If your physician has ruled out other possible causes, and you suspect the cause might be your bite, contact a dentist for an examination.
This post is the sixth in a series of seven posts regarding common dental problems.
Brushing and flossing daily will go a long way toward keeping your teeth and gums healthy. But sometimes trouble arises even when you do everything right (blame bad genes or bad luck). Here are the issues you should be on the lookout for and what to do to keep them at bay.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ)
TMJ is a group of conditions that affect the temporomandibular joint, just below the ears and above the jaw. Sufferers may clench or grind their teeth subconsciously, often at night.
Who’s at risk?
About twice as many women as men are believed to have TMJ, most commonly during their childbearing years. People who are under a great deal of stress are also more prone to it, or a sever injury to the jaw may cause the condition. It’s usually not chronic, though it can become so. TMJ can lead to worn-down and sensitive teeth, as well as other painful symptoms, such as a sore jaw, headaches, neck aches, and earaches.
What to do
See your dentist if you feel pain when you chew, find that your jaw has limited movement, or have radiating pain in your face, neck or shoulders. Treatment may be as simple as relaxation exercises, cold compresses, ibuprofen, and avoiding foods that require serious chewing. To train yourself to stop clenching and grinding your teeth, the Mayo Clinic recommends “resting your tongue upward with your teeth apart and your lips closed.” To stop nighttime grinding, your dentist can fit you with a mouth guard.
Because the removal of third molars (wisdom teeth) in adults sometimes results in complications such as infections or “dry sockets,” some experts suggest third molars should be removed when patients are between the ages of 16 and 20.
By the time we reach age 16, our jaws are fully formed– the crowns (or tops) of the third molars are also formed, but the roots are not completely developed. This is the best time to remove the third molars if x-rays show that there is not enough room in the jaw for the teeth to erupt. Obviously, if the x-rays show there is no sign of potential problems, third molars are allowed to develop and erupt.
Some orthodontists believe third molars are responsible for crowding front teeth out of alignment, causing an incorrect bite or crooked teeth. Impacted third molars also crowd adjacent teeth out of alignment and sometimes damage adjacent teeth.