Jaw Joint Treatments

Problems with the teeth and jaw can cause headaches and migraines. Dental abscesses, post-extraction infection and difficulties with the jaw joint, or the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), can cause pain in the local area, as well as referred pain to the face and head. Problems with the jaw are grouped under the general term of temporomandibular joint dysfunction, or TMJD.

Causes of TMJD

  • Missing teeth
  • Grinding or clenching of teeth, which may be linked to stress
  • Emotional or physical stress and tension in the jaw muscles
  • Injuries such as fractures or dislocations of the TMJ
  • Degenerative diseases such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Wrongly shape dental fillings, crowns or bridges

Symptoms of TMJD

  • Limited jaw movement
  • Difficulty in opening the mouth
  • A stuck or ‘locked’ jaw
  • Clicking, grating or popping noises from the jaw joints
  • Pain when chewing, yawning or opening the jaw widely
  • Pain in or around the ears and cheeks
  • Headaches and occasionally migraine-like headaches and nausea
  • Earaches, loss of hearing or ringing in the ears
  • Face, neck, back and shoulder pain
  • A feeling of muscle spasms
  • Toothache
  • Clenching and grinding of teeth
  • An uncomfortable bite or ‘occlusion’ (that is, the contact of the teeth in the upper and lowers jaws as they meet during chewing or when the jaws are closed)

Diagnosis of TMJ Disorders

Before starting treatment, we make a diagnosis based on a comprehensive clinical examination as well as your medical and dental history. During your appointment, we note the exact location of pain, stiffness or soreness, the range of jaw movement and any noises in the jaw joint. We also look at your bite, tooth wear and movement of teeth.

To assist with diagnosis, we may recommend:

  • Plaster moulds of your teeth to see if your occlusion (bite) is correctly balanced
  • An X-ray examination
  • Completion of a questionnaire and a pain diagram to assess how your symptoms affect your quality of life

Treatment Methods

As TMJ disorders are often temporary, we generally use treatments that do not have any permanent effect on the teeth and jaw joint.

When designing treatment plans for TMJ disorders, we focus on:

  • Reducing your pain
  • Restoring your jaw function
  • Minimising any noises from your jaw joint
  • Enabling you to carrying out your normal daily activities

Your plan may include some or all of the following treatments:

  • Occlusal appliance therapy
  • Modified diet
  • Avoid extreme jaw movements
  • Physiotherapy
  • Warm or cold packs
  • Relaxation and stress management
  • Behaviour modification therapy
  • Medication
  • Specialist management
  • Surgery