• August 10, 2011
  • Dr. Catherine-Anne Walsh

So I went to open my blog dashboard this morning, as is usually the case, not really knowing what I am going to write about. While I was thinking about my next subject for this week’s blog, I found myself holding onto my face, which was feeling pretty sore. For a couple of days now, just touching the side of my jaw on both sides makes me want to cry like a baby. My next blog subject is literally hitting me in the face when I click: A-ha, I’ll write about temporomandibular joint and muscle dysfunction! 
Have you ever been to the dentist begging for them to relieve your pain in your face and mouth, to be told there is nothing wrong with your teeth and that the problem is in your TMJ or in your facial muscles? 
Or maybe you are a chronic sufferer of headaches and migraines, often waking up with a headache which is difficult to shake? In this series of blogs we will cover some common muscle and jaw-related problems which can mimic toothaches or even cause ongoing discomfort that cannot be attributed to any physical or hormonal anomaly.
Symptoms of temporomanidbular joint (TMJ) dysfunction are very varied. They depend on the underlying causes- night time or day time clenching or grinding, postural problems, anxiety, etc. Often, people will complain of chronic recurrent headaches, which mostly start first thing in the morning and even though they have had numerous MRIs and tests, the cause had not been found. Others will only occasionally complain of tenderness in the face or inability to chew or open their mouth really wide. 
Treatment of this condition also depends on the cause and can vary from using non-steriodal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g ibuprofen, as found in Nurofen), a simple nightguard (aka occlusal splint) to treatment of anxiety and even surgery, as is sometimes the case with obstructive sleep apnea. Often, a combination of underlying causes produces a combination of symptoms (hence, this condition is more of a syndrome), which in turn require a combination of treatments to produce effective, sustainable relief. 
It is a good idea to insist on a number of professionals, such as dentists, GPs, chiropractors or physiotherapists and counsellors or psychologists working together to resolve this condition! 

Dr. Catherine-Anne Walsh
About The Author

Dr. Catherine-Anne Walsh

Catherine-Anne is a New Zealand-qualified dentist. She holds a Masters Degree in Public Health from Sydney University and she has a broad range of experiences from working in both the public and private sector.

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