If you keep suffering tension headaches or sore neck, then this could actually be due to problems with your jaw. A Harvard University Medical School research study recently established that the majority of headaches in someone who's otherwise healthy can be because of jaw joint disorder (otherwise known as temporomandibular joint disorder or TMD).
Your jaw joint links your lower jaw and your head; it has a robust disc that prevents these two surfaces from wearing out, plus a complex network of muscles and ligaments to operate and support the link. You use this joint all the time - when speaking, eating, swallowing, turning your head - and it actually carries the heaviest load of any joint in the body. To feel it working, put your fingers on the skin immediately in front of your ear lobes then open and close your mouth.
If there are any problems in the jaw joint, these can affect the whole of the rest of your body. For example, a dislocation of the jaw joint disc can pinch the nerves that go into your head and neck; an imbalance of the jaw joint tires your facial muscles. If you're suffering tension headaches, migraines, sore neck, postural issues, cracking or popping in the joint, noises when opening your mouth or shifting of the joint when you bite, then you may have jaw joint problems.
The first and easiest thing to do is to avoid chewing gum, which stresses your head and neck muscles. Massage, pain relief medication and core strengthening exercise methods such as Pilates can also help.
If your jaw joint is in trouble, self-help may only provide temporary relief. Your jaw joint needs to come into balance with the rest of your head and have a chance to heal.
At Granta Dental we can offer an examination of your jaw joint condition as part of a patient consultation or regular dental check-up. This involves X-rays, joint vibration analysis and in some cases an MRI scan; we then report back with recommendations for treatment.
We can then give you a temporary appliance to wear over your teeth immediately after we've examined you - and for many patients this brings almost immediate relief from pain. Longer-term treatments will vary according to your condition, ranging from an appliance through to dental repair.
For an indication of fees for jaw joint treatment, click here.