Do you suffer from migraines, tension headaches, aching jaws or a stiff neck and shoulders?
If you suffer from any of these problems, you may have a condition that has been known by a number of names over the years, including TMJ, TMD (Temporomandibular Disorder), MPD (Myofascial Pain Disorder). Regardless of the name, they all cause the problems listed above, and they can all be related to the same thing -- clenching or grinding your teeth when you are sleeping or awake.
Can clenching my teeth really cause these types of problems?
Some of the strongest muscles in your body are involved in clenching, and clenching while sleeping can cause these muscles to tense up ten times more intensely than in people without these problems. The increased tension can be a big factor in migraines, morning headaches, jaw pain, and can even cause damage to surrounding joints, teeth and other muscles.
These muscles, called the masticatory muscles, are located on the sides of your head and are used when you are closing your mouth or chewing. When these muscles tense up during clenching, they can create a tremendous amount of stress and tension for your jaw joints, your neck muscles and your teeth.
What does clenching my teeth have to do with these problems?
The high-intensity contractions of the powerful muscles responsible for the clenching become sore and painful, like when you work out too hard at the gym. The forces generated cause pain not only in these muscles, but in surrounding tissues, joints and other muscles. When you reduce the intensity of the clenching, you minimize the source of the pain. In many cases, you can actually feel relief in just a few days.
How can I stop clenching?
During the daytime, you may feel the tension in your jaws buildup, and you can massage and stretch your jaw muscles to receive some relief. However, you can't do that at night, while you are sleeping. This is where Dr. Anundsen can fabricate a custom oral appliance that you wear at night when you sleep. This specially designed appliance makes it virtually impossible to clench your teeth at night. After a few days or weeks, your clenching reflex starts to disappear. Migraine pain, morning headache pain, jaw and neck pain, and other related pain associated with this unconscious intense clenching usually begins to resolve and often completely disappear.
Is this type of oral appliance the same as a soft nightguard?
No. Most nightguards or traditional flat-plane splints cover all of the teeth and give you a nice flat surface to bite down on. Although these flat planed nightgaurd protect the teeth and often relax the mucsles, in many cases the patient continues to clench on the appliance itself. These devices only increase the problems.
Dr. Anundsen offers a variety of custom dental appliances to help you get relief from your pain depending on your individual situation. One of these is the NTI-tss appliance -- the only dental appliance approve by the FDA for migraine treatment. This small, custom-made oral appliance fits over the front teeth and keeps the back molars from touching.
"The NTI-tss appliance works by eliminating the ability of your back teeth to clench," explains Dr. Anundsen. "By stopping the intense clenching, we stop the source of the pain, so migraines, tension headaches and TMJ (jaw joint) pain are greatly reduced and often disappear!"
If you suffer from migraines and nothing seems to help, call our office today at 303.980.4800 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Anundsen. He can determine if you have a grinding or clenching problem and whether a NTI-tss device is right for you.