So you wake up in the morning with a tight jaw and pain towards your ears. Maybe you even get headaches and a sore neck! Did you know that all of this pain could be because you’re clenching or grinding your teeth?!
They say that you’re not really a South African unless you own a nightguard! And whilst your lifestyle may be a far cry from that of a Kardashian, simply suiting up to go to the office may still be enough to raise your cortisol levels. Research has shown that during episodes of grinding, our heart rate and pulse increases, which proves that a direct correlation between stress and grinding exists. Although yoga classes may help you find your Zen, it may not prevent you from damaging your pearly whites!
TMJ is short for temporal-mandibular joint, which is a vital component in the movement and function of the jaw. Complications in this joint may be caused by misalignment of the teeth, trauma, or excessive muscle tension. Problems in the TMJ can cause headaches, earaches, popping of the jaw, pain in the jaw muscles, and soreness in the area that may extend to the face. Dr van Niekerk has various methods for TMJ treatments, including professional bite plates, injections with Botox® and splints designed for daytime wear.
You may benefit from TMJ therapy if you:
- Wake up from your sleep clenching your teeth
- See small crack lines in your teeth
- Have experienced several cracked teeth
- Have pain in the morning in your jaw
- Have small notches at the gumline of your teeth
- Get headaches and a sore neck regularly
What to expect
Your first appointment
At your first appointment in Ballito, Dr van Niekerk will perform a TMJ assessment, checking your range of movement, feeling for tension in the muscles surrounding the jaw, checking for clicking or crepitus (crackling noise) and examining all factors that may contribute to your symptoms. Since there are many factors that may cause TMJ disorders, careful assessment is necessary to ensure the right treatment regime is chosen for you. Treatment options may include the use of a professional bite plate, but for optimal results, Dr van Niekerk uses a multidisciplinary approach.
After your assessment, an impression of your teeth may be taken and sent to our laboratory technician to create a strong, durable appliance that should last for many years. If Dr van Niekerk finds a strong muscular component causing your symptoms, he may proceed to administer Botox® injections to specific areas to relieve muscular tension and acute pain.
Your second appointment
During your second appointment, we will have your new oral appliance ready for you. Dr van Niekerk will fit the appliance and check whether it performs the intended functions. We will provide instructions on how to place the appliance, how to take it out and how to clean it. Dr van Niekerk will also re-evaluate the muscles of mastication to assess the effect of the Botox® injection if this was done.
If you are serious about the health of your TMJ contact The Cosmetic and Dental Emporium, Umhlanga today at 031 566 5142 to schedule your appointment.