Headaches, Facial Pain, TMJ / Occlusal Dysfunction

Headaches, migraines, facial pain and TMJ (jaw joint) / occlusal (bite) dysfunction have been shown to have a correlation with how your teeth fit together and how your body chooses to respond to the trauma. These problems are seen in patients of all ages and all walks of life. Many headaches, migraines, facial pain and TMJ problems have a neuromuscular origin caused by the trauma of a bad or ill-functioning bite over a period of time. Some problems originate from a sleep disturbance (arousals associated with sleep apnea) which exaggerates the patient's problems.   Additionally, some problems are a combination of several causes. If the muscles of the head and neck can be helped to function in a normal relaxed state, the resultant problems will be diminished and in most cases eliminated. This aspect of care can change over time and will need to be monitored on a regular basis.

Occlusal DysfunctionOcclusal (bite) disease does not always present itself to the casual observer. Some of the warning signs may include: wear, chips, cracks, broken teeth, sensitivity, tooth aches, loose teeth, gum recession, misaligned teeth, clenching or grinding of your teeth, waking in the morning with your jaws or muscles feeling sore and tired, clicking or popping sounds of your jaw joint, restricted movement or locking of your jaw, earaches, ringing in your ears, neck or shoulder aches and dizziness. Additionally, headaches, migraines and facial pain may be warning signs of TMJ / occlusal dysfunction and associated sleep disorders.
examination of your bite
Studies show that fifty to seventy percent of the patients with TMJ related problems have a sleep disturbance as a contributing or causative reason. When patients have an arousal (awakening) from sleep (most of the time not aware of the arousal) there is an increase of muscle activity including clenching and grinding your teeth. Many patients are told by their dentist that they grind their teeth. Often patients deny it because they are unaware...the bruxism (grinding of the teeth at night) occurs during a sleep disturbance. Our patients are treated first to control the acute symptoms to get them comfortable and then evaluated to see if a sleep disorder is contributing or causative to the problem. If so, after proper evaluation and diagnosis, a combination sleep appliance and TMJ appliance may be used to help with both problems. We then are able to treat the cause of the problem (sleep disturbance) and not just the effects (bruxism, headaches, etc).

Dr. Steinberg has been highly trained and is experienced in recognizing the signs of TMJ / occlusal disease and sleep disordered breathing and in providing the proper treatment to halt their detrimental effects. In many cases these effects can be reversed. It is possible to have young looking teeth at an elderly age and not old worn teeth at a young age.

Much of the adult dentistry that has to be repaired or replaced might have been avoided if the signs of occlusal dysfunction were recognized and addressed at the onset of dental care. Millions of people suffer needlessly from headaches, migraines, and other related head, neck and facial pain when in fact their dentistry may be the cause!

A review of your medical and dental history will start the evaluation process. A thorough examination of your bite, head and neck muscles, jaw joint and quality of sleep will also shed light on the problems. The use of mounted study casts show details that may not be first observed clinically.

bite splint is a diagnostic toolTreatment usually starts with ‘bite splint therapy’. An acrylic appliance is made to fit securely to your top or bottom teeth. It is designed to help you discover what a stable proper bite feels like and what affect a good bite has on your teeth, muscles and TMJ (jaw joint). It is probable that your problems will lessen and even disappear. Treatment time varies depending on your individual situation, but most patients notice positive changes and a relief of muscle tension and pain in a short time.

The bite splint is a diagnostic tool. It tests the theory that a correct biting scheme can allow your chewing muscles and jaw joint to relax and allow symptoms to dissipate. When a patient realizes the comfort of a well functioning bite, musculature and jaw joint he may be ready for equilibration where the teeth are made to perform similarly to the bite splint. Bite splint therapy allows us to look into the future and develop a predictable reconstruction.

In cases of chronic pain the use of therapeutic Botox has been effective to aid in relaxing muscles.  Click here for more information on Theraputic Botox.


There is no need to be in pain.




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