Why do you have pain in the neck, jaw or face?
Most people don’t think to mention the pain in their facial muscles or jaw joints to their dentist. Yet such pain is a common symptom of TMD – temporomandibular joint disorder. This is a disorder that affects the complex system of teeth, facial muscles and jaw joints, causing acute or chronic pain in the head, neck and jaw area.
What causes jaw pain and TMD?
The joint where your upper and lower jaw meet is called the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). The way that your upper and lower teeth come together (your bite or occlusion) is part of this complex system. A smooth working relationship between the teeth, facial muscles and jaw joints is essential for our mouth to do everyday things like talking, chewing, biting and yawning.
If your teeth don’t fit together properly (misaligned bite), the facial muscles and jaw joints “accommodate” – meaning they work harder to get your teeth together. A misaligned bite often leads to facial muscles that are overworked and TMD signs and symptoms like:
- Jaw pain or tenderness
- Pain in the face, head or neck
- Biting or chewing difficulty or discomfort
- Reduced ability to open or close the mouth
- Popping/clicking of the jaw joints
- Limited opening or locking of the jaw
- A change in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together
- Teeth grinding
- Pain in and around the ear without infection
- Sensitive teeth when no dental problems can be found
What is neuromuscular dentistry?
Neuromuscular dentistry looks at the entire system that controls the position and function of your jaw. A neuromuscular dentist will analyse the factors that affect your bite – the teeth, facial muscles, jaw joints and airways – and aim to create a more harmonious jaw position. The resulting bite is called a neuromuscular bite.
What technology do we use at Island Dental?
Our Adelaide dentists are trained and equipped to diagnose and treat your TMD. Non-invasive tests can help determine whether or not muscle tension, your bite or your jaw joints may be the cause of your TMD and whether treatment by a neuromuscular dentist will help sort it out.
We can analyse the function (or dysfunction) of your TMJ and provide a comprehensive evaluation of your bite through the use of:
Our dentists can then use a TENS device – a battery-operated electrical muscle stimulator – to deliver gentle electrical stimulation to your muscles and help them reach a true relaxed state.