Jaw Pain - TMJ Pain - Headaches: Dr. Holly Scott-Hetchler in Lansing Can Help

For those who have a poorly aligned bite or missing teeth, health related problems such as frequent headaches or sleep disorders can become more pronounced because their jaw muscles are working harder to bring the teeth together, straining the surrounding jaw muscles, leading to TMJ disorder.  If you are experiencing any of this, you may be suffering from  a TMJ disorder, a painful condition that is often mistaken for other conditions that cause recurring headaches. 


Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ)

The temporomandibular joints are the points at which the lower jaw attaches to the skull, and are among the most complex joints in the human anatomy.  If your jaw clicks or pops, this could be a sign of a TMJ disorder.  Joint sound is one of the most recognized signs of a TMJ disorders.  TMJ disorder symptoms include:

  • Clicking and/or difficulty when opening and closing your mouth
  • Frequent headaches
  • Neck and/or shoulder pain
  • Sensitive teeth when no dental problems can be found
  • Jaw pain or stiff jaw when chewing, biting, eating or yawning
  • Earaches without an infection

Between five and ten percent of Americans suffer from TMJ symptoms that require some form of treatment. 


Stressors May be Causing you Pain

Do you have too many things on your “to-do” list and not enough time to do it?  Are you worried about up coming events this year?  It is important to take a deep breath and stay calm when performing stressful tasks.  According to the Academy of General Dentistry, when a situation causes stress, many people grind or clench their teeth, which can eventually lead to temporomandibular joint disorder.

Overloading the tiny muscles in your jaw can cause a TMJ disorder.  When you experience many stressful situations, you may exhibit symptoms such as tightened jaw muscles without realizing it.  Over short periods of time, this habit is not detrimental, but long periods of time will prove to be problematic.  Prolonged grinding or clenching of your teeth while stressed can cause soreness of the jaw, as well as partial or full locking of the jaw. It can also cause cracks in your teeth.  In addition you may exhibit clicking in the jaw area, earaches that are not caused by infections and pain surrounding your temples. 

If your discomfort is more intense when you wake up in the morning, you may be clenching or grinding your teeth while you are sleeping.  This is very common.  At the end of the day, if your jaw hurts you may also be clenching your teeth at work, which is often caused by stress. 

If you are noticing pain, pay attention to where it is located, keep your teeth apart by placing your tongue between your teeth, stretch your jaw by gently opening and closing, and call Dr. Holly Scott-Hetchler to ensure that there is no serious problem if your pain continues for several days. 



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Holly A. Scott-Hetchler DDS, PC 919 Chester RdLansing, MI 48912