A TMJ patient of Beyond Exceptional Dentistry shows off her changes with treatmentActual TMJ Patient

Do you experience jaw pain, neck pain, and back pain? Do you get earaches or hear ringing in your ears? Do you get frequent headaches, including migraines or intense tension headaches? If so, then TMJ may be the cause of your problems, and we can help.

This page explains what TMJ is and why it can cause your symptoms, but the only way to know if it is the cause of your symptoms is to talk to a neuromuscular dentist in person. Please call (843) 706-2999 or email Beyond Exceptional Dentistry in Hilton Head today to schedule your appointment.

Symptoms of TMJ

TMJ, short for temporomandibular joint disorder, also called TMD, can cause a dizzying array of symptoms. These can include:

  • Migraines and severe tension headaches
  • Neck aches
  • Upper back pain
  • Numbness in the fingers
  • Pain in the jaw
  • Clicking, grating, or popping sound in the jaw joints
  • Restricted jaw movement
  • Stuffiness or ringing in the ears
  • Facial pain
  • Wear or damage to teeth and restorations
  • Tooth pain that affects multiple teeth, affecting different areas on different days

It can cause all these symptoms because of the way that the muscles of your jaw partner with numerous other muscles in your head and neck.

When your jaw is out of balance, your other muscles may experience additional tension, which can cause pressure on nerves, and even pull your neck vertebrae out of alignment. Once your neck vertebrae are out of balance, the imbalance can progress down your spine, leading to pinched nerves and more.

TMJ and Migraine Headaches

One of the most common and debilitating symptoms of TMJ is severe headaches. These include both migraine and tension headaches.

Because your jaw muscles work with other muscles in your head and neck, an imbalance in your jaw joint can create tension in your head, resulting in tension headaches, which can be frequent and severe as migraines. A patient displays a K7 sensor array for TMJ

These tension headaches can also serve as migraine triggers. Worse, TMJ may cause migraine headaches by irritating the trigeminal nerve. The trigeminal nerve is recognized as the trigger point for migraines, and it runs right by the temporomandibular joint, the source of TMJ.

Clinical studies have shown that TMJ treatment can reduce the frequency and severity of tension headaches and the frequency (but not severity) of migraine headaches.

How Treatment Works

TMJ treatment begins with TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation), an electrical massage that relaxes your muscles and releases endorphins, which function as natural painkillers.

A TMJ scan, showing results

A TMJ scan, showing range of motion

With your muscles relaxed, we can determine your jaw's ideal rest position. We use three primary tools to build a scientific foundation for diagnosis and treatment:

  • Computerized jaw tracking identifies irregular jaw movement.
  • Electromyography (EMG) measures electrical activity in your muscles to show when they are working and when they are resting.
  • Electrosonography (ESG) uses the sound of your joint to identify any destructive or degenerative processes in the TMJ.

Once we have determined the degree and type of your TMJ, we can recommend treatment.

For some people, regular TENS massage keeps the jaw in alignment and avoids muscle tension. Other people may need to wear an orthopedic mouthpiece while they sleep. Other people may need dental restorations as part of a full mouth rejuvenation to build up teeth to support the jaw and muscles. In rare cases, joint surgery may be recommended.

For additional information about TMJ or to schedule your evaluation, please call (843) 706-2999 Beyond Exceptional Dentistry in Hilton Head.