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Headaches and facial pain and TMD — oh my!

Posted September 11, 2013 in Advice Column, Clive, West Des Moines

Betsy is a 42-year-old mom of three, teacher, wife and daily headache sufferer.

Actually, she is a former headache sufferer. It turns out she has been taking medication for more than five years for “headaches” that were actually misdiagnosed. What she actually had was TMD.

Matt is a married dad of three young children who also had daily headaches. What he actually had was TMD combined with facial pain. Matt is also a former headache sufferer, a very happy one, just like Betsy.

Many temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD for short) patients have symptoms that include headache, jaw pain, face pain and joint pain. There are many treatments and therapies for TMD, but some are much more effective than others. The only way to effectively treat TMD, facial pain and headaches is with a proper diagnosis.  This can be very difficult in many cases. It takes time, patience and excellent diagnostic aids, such as a imaging, digital bite scanning and range of motion tests to uncover just exactly where symptoms originate.

TMD-related problems include:
•    Tight muscles.
•    Joint inflammation.
•    Joint damage.
•    Teeth grinding or clenching.

Treatments for TMD may require a combination therapy of temporary diet changes, new  habits for managing stress and maintaining the health of your jaw, medication to reduce pain and inflammation, therapy to reduce pressure on the joint and muscles and restore function and dental treatment to reduce pressure on the joint. In many cases, an orthotic or bite splint that is worn at night during sleep is a very effective treatment for TMD. In most cases, a dentist who is trained to help TMD patients can help to improve or alleviate symptoms.

In Betsy and Matt’s cases, not only did their daily headaches completely go away, they also feel as if they got their lives back. That is the best thing that we can hope for as a healthcare provider.

Information provided by Dr. Steffany Mohan, dentist, author and speaker, Plaza Dental Group, 1089 Jordan Creek Parkway, Suite 100, West Des Moines, www.DMsmiles.com, 515-224-5999.





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