TMJ Jaw Pain, Clicking and Locking | Pittsburg Dental Sleep Medecine
Tooth grinding or clenching is typically the dental manifestation of stress, anxiety, a sleep-related breathing disorder or hyperactivity. The symptoms that are the result of the clench habit can range from the physical wear of the teeth to sore, tender muscles in the face, neck and shoulders to a painful, clicking or locking jaw joint (TMJ) to debilitating headaches. The headaches may be migraine, cluster or muscle-tension type. Low nighttime oxygen levels secondary to sleep-related breathing problems can also be the source of dull headaches upon awakening.
A sleep-related breathing disorder can be the cause of teeth clenching as the body’s reflex to help keep the jaw forward for better breathing. The sleep breathing disorder must be confirmed or ruled out in the course of the oral appliance treatment for a TMJ disorder. If a sleep breathing problem is confirmed then it can be simultaneously managed with the TMJ disorder so as not to impede the progress of that treatment or cause recurrence of symptoms. Research indicates that the source of~60% of TMJ (Jaw) problems is an underlying breathing problem during sleep. If this concern is not suspected or ruled out by diagnostic testing then the appropriate dental appliance worn over the teeth is selected to reduce the intensity of the clench habit and relax the related facial and neck muscles that are often sore on awakening…Other custom designed oral appliances may, alternately, be selected if a patient’s symptoms involve the TMJoints. These devices are often considered when the jaw clicks or there is difficulty and limitation in opening or closing the jaw usually due to a “dislocation” of the disc. Concurrently there is often discomfort to function (talk and/or chew). In addition to selecting the proper appliance for nitetime or daytime and nitetime wear Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS), Ultrasound, and therapeutic exercises are other very non-invasive, current treatment modalities that can be used to provide relief in these cases as alternatives to surgical intervention for improvement. Posture and nutritional concerns are also assessed during evaluation for any part they may have in contributing to or improving one’s condition. Our education, training and experience in providing treatment for TMJ disorders or muscle-related symptoms in the face or neck is to correctly identify the underlying source of the symptoms and use the most conservative therapy that resolves the source of those symptoms.
For more information visit the patient portal at AACP.org (the American Academy of Craniofacial Pain)