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Jaw Problems

The way your teeth meet when your top and bottom jaws close down on top of each other is known as your 'bite'. If your teeth don't fit together properly, this can cause problems with your teeth, gums, the jaw joint, also known as the temporo-mandibular joint (TMJ) and the muscles in your face.

Some people clench their jaw and grind their teeth at night. This can lead to TMJ disorder, facial pain, headaches, discomfort and clicking when biting or chewing, migraines as well as neck and shoulder pain, even back pain.

If you recognise any of these symptoms or suffer with these on a daily basis, you will need to see a dentist to treat your problems or refer you to a specialist if necessary.

In some cases, the treatment includes wearing a hard/soft appliance at night. This is made to measure and fitted onto your bite accurately, so that when you bite on it, your teeth are in a position where your muscles are relaxed. This also stops your teeth from becoming worn down by grinding and protects them. Depending on the origin and severity of your problem, you may need Orthodontic treatment or Maxillofacial surgery. Other solutions may include replacing missing teeth or adjusting any ill-fitting bridgework that you may have.

Your dentist can advise you and show you some appropriate exercises to do, taking into consideration any reasons for the problem such as work related stress or environmental factors.

Advice for relieving TMJ problems includes:

  • Restricting how far you open your jaw, such as supporting your chin during yawning.
  • Cutting food up into small pieces to reduce the effort of chewing.
  • Choosing a soft diet.
  • Appropriate pain relief such as anti-inflammatory medicines or a heat pack.
  • Massaging your facial muscles.
  • Exercises to relax your jaw and face.
  • Practicing good posture.
  • Relaxation techniques to relieve stress.

The important thing to do is see your dentist as soon as possible so your problem does not become worse over time and require more drastic measures to correct.

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