TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders are a poorly
understood family of problems related to your the
components that make up your jaw joint. If you have had
symptoms like a painful click or an inability to open or
close your mouth, you'll be glad to know that we have
experience in treating these problems. Since some types
of TMJ problems can lead to more serious conditions,
early detection and treatment are important.
It is unlikely that one treatment will resolve TMJ
disorders completely and treatment takes time to be
effective. Drs. Peter and
Christopher Ching can
help you have a healthier joint and more comfortable
Trouble with Your Jaw?
TMJ disorders develop for many reasons. You might
clench or grind your teeth or have other habits that
stress your jaw muscles and jaw joint. Or, you may have
a damaged jaw joint due to injury or disease. Whatever
the cause, the results may include a misaligned bite,
pain, clicking or grating noises when you open your
mouth, or trouble opening your mouth wide.
- Do you have a TMJ disorder?
- Are you aware of grinding or
clenching your teeth?
- Do you wake up with sore,
stiff muscles around your jaws?
- Do you have frequent headaches
or neck aches?
- Does the pain get worse when
you clench your teeth?
- Does stress make your
clenching and pain worse?
- Does your jaw click, pop,
grate, catch, and lock when you open your mouth?
- Is it difficult or painful to
open your mouth, eat or yawn?
- Have you ever injured your
neck, head or jaws?
- Have you had problems (such as
arthritis) with other joints?
- Do you have teeth that no
longer touch when you bite?
- Do your teeth meet differently
from time to time?
- Is it hard to use your front
teeth to bite or tear food?
- Are your teeth sensitive,
loose, broken or worn?
The more times you answered "yes," the more likely it
is that you have a TMJ disorder. Understanding TMJ
disorders will also help you understand how they're
Painful to Painless Clenching—Bruxism
Many people either have, once had, or will have a
clenching disorder. Clenching disorders are more common
than you might think. Clenching disorders are the
conscious or unconscious squeezing, tapping, clenching,
rubbing or grinding of your teeth together at night
while you sleep or at times during the day. For some,
this disorder causes pain. For others, it goes on
unrecognized for years until the health of the mouth can
become severely compromised.
The severity of
clenching disorders falls into a continuum, with
painless clenching on one end and painful clenching on
In The Painful Clencher, It Simply
Hurts (and May Damage the Teeth)
Eyes, Back of Neck
People with painful clenching may
suffer from headaches around the temples, the eyes or
back of the neck. The frequent squeezing, tensing and
fatiguing of these jaw muscles often leads to these
“tension” headaches. Many “sinus” headaches are, in
fact, from clenching the muscles of the jaws and face.
Stress and lack of sleep may aggravate these pains.
Nightly clenching may be a
significant trigger for migraine headaches. Many
migraine sufferers gain migraine relief by proper
management of their nightly clenching. The same nightly
clenching that triggers a “tension” headache becomes
more severe in the person prone to migraines. If you
suffer from migraines, it may pay to be evaluated for
clenching as a trigger.
Temporal Mandibular Jaw Joint
Painful clenchers may have pain in their
temporal mandibular jaw joints (TMJ) with difficulty
chewing or with limited jaw opening. In these people,
the joint and surrounding ligaments become stressed by
the action of the powerful clenching muscles. These
people may feel or hear their jaw joints click, pop or
get stuck. This can often hurt.
Annoying Clencher, There Is Soreness or Sensitivity,
Plus Damage to the Teeth
Sore Jaw Muscles or Throat
Annoying clenchers may have sore muscles near
the sides of their jaws or cheeks. They may even
complain of a sore throat near the front of their neck.
Throat soreness can be from the tongue pushing hard
against the teeth while they clench at night. These
people might not have headaches, just annoying soreness
around their lower face or neck. However, while they
clench, their teeth take a beating.
Itching Teeth or Gums
Annoying clenchers may complain
of wandering tooth sensitivity that travels around their
mouths. It can be continual, even tooth specific. Teeth
become sensitive to cold, or even to the touch of a
toothbrush or dental probe. Having their teeth cleaned
my be uncomfortable. Teeth or gums may feel itchy after
a night of clenching. Annoying clenchers may wake up
feeling like they have been squeezing their teeth
together. For all of these sensitivities, nightly
clenching may be the culprit. Teeth react to excessive
clenching by becoming sensitive to cold or tender to
chewing. Teeth do not like the nightly beating.
Sometimes back teeth will even crack under the repeated
In the Painless Clencher; the Teeth,
Gums or Supporting Bone Take the Abuse
Get Shorter, Rougher or Keep on Chipping
painless clencher, it’s the teeth that take the abuse.
The front teeth continue to wear, chip, roughen or crack
as they are rubbed or gnashed together at night. Often
this was painful clenching in the past. However, if the
muscles get healthy, the joints become resistant to pain
and the clencher is no longer prone to headaches—the
muscles get stronger, with the teeth gums taking the
There are various treatment options that
Drs. Peter and
Christopher Ching can
utilize to improve the harmony and function of your jaw.
Once an evaluation confirms a diagnosis of a TMJ
disorder, your doctor will determine the proper course
of treatment. It is important to note that treatment
always works best with a team approach of self-care as
well as professional care.
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