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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 bite.

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 treated.

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 the other.

In The Painful Clencher, It Simply Hurts (and May Damage the Teeth)

Headaches—Temporal, 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.

Headaches—Migraine Trigger

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 (TMJ) Pain

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.

In the Annoying Clencher, There Is Soreness or Sensitivity, Plus Damage to the Teeth

Sore Jaw Muscles or Throat Pain

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.

Sensitive Teeth, 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 pressures.

In the Painless Clencher; the Teeth, Gums or Supporting Bone Take the Abuse

Front Teeth Get Shorter, Rougher or Keep on Chipping

In the 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 abuse.


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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The office of Dr. Peter and Christopher Ching provides dentistry for children, teens, and adults serving Momence, Grant Park, Bradley, Bourbonnais, Kanakee, Manteno, Peotone, Crete-Monee (Illinois) & Lake Village (Indiana). Drs. Peter N. Ching and Christopher K. Ching offer general, orthodontic, implants, cosmetic and family dentistry. Contact the dental practice of Ching Dental to schedule an appointment.

Momence, IL Dentist - Ching Dental - Christopher Ching, DDS & Peter N. Ching, DDS
116 North Locust Street, Momence, IL 60954 ph. (815) 472-6345

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