It may seem unlikely, but unexplained headaches often can be a dental problem, as a great many people with Temporomandibular Dysfunction (TMD) have learned.
Better known in lay terms as TMJ, named for the temporomandibular joint, TMD can cause a variety of troubling symptoms. These range from those headaches – typically in the temporal area in front of and above the ears, or at the back of the neck – to jaw pain, soreness in the facial muscles, or a feeling of “tightness” in the face upon awakening that takes a while to go away
To understand TMD/TMJ, you need to know that the relationship between our jaw joints and how our teeth fit together influences both comfort and appearance.
Ideally, both of our jaw joints are in perfect position, and when we close our teeth together, all teeth touch at the same time with equal intensity. When one or both of our jaw joints move in any direction, our back teeth immediately come apart, and when any teeth are touching, our front teeth guide our jaw movement until the jaw joints are all the way back to full closure. This natural “bio-engineering” provides the most stable, harmonious environment for the jaw joints, the teeth, the muscles, ligaments, gum tissues, and bone.
For many people, though, the fit is far from ideal. When this system is operating in an uncoordinated fashion, humans have a variety of ways to adapt. Some of the manifestations commonly seen are:
- Worn, loose, broken or cracked teeth;
- Gum tissue recession;
- Bone loss around teeth;
- Sore muscles in the face, temples and neck;
- Stretched ligaments in the joints;
and other degenerative effects. It is this group of maladies that is termed TMD.
The good news is you don’t have to simply live with the condition, or its effects. All of these conditions can be remedied with TMD treatment-and should be, especially if you are considering aesthetic restorative dentistry and want a stable result.