Jaw & Facial Pain/TMJ Dysfunction/Headache

Most headache or facial pain suffers are on a medical merry-go-round in their quest for pain relief Because symptoms of TMJ Dysfunction (problems with the jaw joint) and associated craniofacial pain syndrome can masquerade as so many other conditions, it is often difficult to diagnose.  A so-called “incurable” headache, ear or facial pain could be generated by your jaw joints, bite and spasm in the associated facial musculature.  A team approach and open communication with physicians and other health care professionals bring effective “team management” to the patient.

Symptoms
TMD symptoms may include any of the following:

  • Headaches
  • Clicking, popping. or grating sounds
  • Limited jaw opening or locking
  • Earaches, congestion or ringing ears
  • Dizziness
  • Pain when chewing
  • Facial pain
  • Neck pain or stiffness, throat pain
  • Difficulty in closing the teeth together
  • Tired jaws


Did you know?
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint between your skull and the mandible (lower jaw).  The two TMJ’s are located in front of the ears.  Each joing has a small disc of cartilage that allows smooth movement when opening and closing.  Muscles and ligaments attach both the bones and joints.  When specific muscles contract, they move the mandible (lower jaw) to allow for chewing, talking, shouting and yawning.

Causes
A malfunction of one or both of the jaw joints can be caused by trauma (whiplash), malocclusion (bad bite), connective tissue disorders (arthritis) or skeletal malformation.  It can be aggravated by poor posture, clinching or bruxism (teeth grinding).

Any malfunction prevents the complex system of muscles,tendons, bones and joints from working together in harmony.  The result is TMJ Dysfunction (TMD).

In actuality, TMJ Dysfunction is an orthopedic problem with a dental solution.  Treatment is sometimes covered by medical insurance.


Diagnostics
Correctly diagnosing TMJ dysfunction requires a complete head and neck examination, health history and symptom review, appropriate x-rays and other testing procedures.  Our office has the knowledge and experience needed for proper, thorough diagnosis and treatment.
 
Diagnostic and treatment therapies we may suggest include cold laser, trigger point therapy, ultrasound, Energex, iontophoresis, cold laser and TENS.  We also have state-of-the-art equipment that can be used to determine the condition of the jaw joints and associated musculature. 

These include:

  • T-Scan
  • Joint Vibration Analysis
  • Computerized Jaw Tracking
  • Tomography
  • Ultrasound
  • Pharyngometer/Rhinometer for testing airway


Treatment
Patients benefit from the non-surgical conservative treatment our office provides.  In most cases, non-surgical treatment is suggested, including a custom-fit oral device – a splint (or orthotic) made of clear acrylic.  This easy-to-wear splint fits either over the top or bottom teeth.  Its main purpose is to eliminate muscle spasm and pain which occurs with bite imbalance.  The orthotic also stabilizes the TM joints.  Dr. Reichgott helps you understand your condition so you can make an informed decision regarding your treatment plan.

We may also recommend:

  • Medications
  • SOT Therapy
  • Physical Therapy
  • Stress Management
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Self-help guidelines

Only 2-3% of all TMJ dysfunction patients require surgery.