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Head, Neck and Facial Pain PDF Print E-mail
Nearly a quarter of the population suffer from some form of craniomadibular (CMD)/temporomandibular (TMD) which may include head, neck and facial symptoms. Unfortunately, many of these sufferers are misdiagnosed with everything from migraines and tension headaches to neuritis, neuralgia or even psychosomatic illness. As the true cause goes unrecognized, patients may be led to prolonged drug therapy, labeled as hypochondriacs or dismissed as incurable.

Common symptoms of TMD include:
  • Chronic headaches
  • Ringing ears
  • Ear congestion
  • Facial pain
  • Clicking/popping joints
  • Neck pain
  • Clenching/grinding
  • Dizziness
  • Shoulder/back pain
  • Limited jaw opening or locking jaw
Muscles, Teeth and Joints

Denistry is about more than just teeth, it is also about the role muscles play in the relationship between teeth, bone and alignment of the jaw with the rest of the body. Physical and emotional stress can also be a factor in tight, tense muscles which reduce the adaptive capabilities of the jaw. Usually, the patient cannot voluntarily relax the muscles that are held in constant tension. Depending on the individual circumstances, muscles may be in a constant state of hyperactivity. This is due to subconscious programming (proprioception) or because they are in the self-perpetuating "pain-spasm-pain" cycle.

Differential Diagnosis

Measuring the pre and post relaxation status of the muscles with a highly sensitive electromyographic (EMG) instrument provides us with precise and objective comparative data.

This data, together with the information about jaw position and function from the JT-3 Jaw Tracker allows us to clearly rule in (or just as importantly, to rule out) postural disharmony with associated compensatory muscle dysfunction as the probable source of pain or dysfunction. Special radiographic studies may be done as necessary.

Our practice utilizes advanced computerized electronics needed to obtain necessary data such as tracking jaw movements and recording muscle activity. This provides a far greater degree of accuracy than the human eye or stethoscope can detect.

Multidisciplinary Approach

Positive findings in these studies usually indicate that the dentist is the supporting provider to the referring health professional. Working together with the physician and other health professionals brings effective "team management" to the patient to correct the problem.

Dentistry & Technology

The jaw is literally one end of the postural (skeletal) chain. When teeth do not fit together properly, it can result in muscle tension of the face and jaw. This condition, or the trauma of accidental injury, can result in a state of sustained elevation of activity in these muscles. A prime example is the delayed onset of muscle spasm following whiplash injury. Prolonged spasm of facial muscles can lead to chronic or transient muscle pain, often perceived in other areas (called "referred pain") and thus, subject to misdiagnosis. A wide range of diagnostic methods are available to identify these problems. Each method is used only as needed in each individual case. These tests might include:
  • JVA – Joint Vibration Analysis
  • EMG – Electromyography
  • JT-3 – Computerized Mandibular Scanning
  • T-SCAN II – Occlusal Analysis
  • Tomographic X-Ray Scanning
  • Special Radiographic Studies
Conservative Treatment

With many hours of special education, training, experience and modern diagnostic skills, we bring a great deal to the health care team addressing the special needs of head, neck, "TMJ" or facial pain patients.

Once accurately diagnosed, conservative treatment methods, rather than surgery or drugs, are often the most successful for long term pain relief. This results in the teeth, muscles and joints all working together in harmony. If a bad bite is determined to be a potentially contributing factor, usually a custom-made orthotic (also known as a "splint") is fit to stabilize the new postural position of the jaw and other skeletal elements.

Along with an orthotic, adjunctive treatments that may be suggested (if necessary) include referrals to other professions and other modalities such as:
  • Physical Therapy
  • Spray & Stretch
  • Massage Therapy
  • TENS (transcutaneous electrical neural stimulation)
  • Trigger Point Injections
  • Hot/Cold therapy
  • Stress counseling
  • Iontophoresis
  • Nutrition counseling
  • Chiropractic
When medical evaluation and tests have not revealed the "cause" of symptoms… dentistry may be the answer for you.

Later, dental procedures such as orthodontics or reconstruction may be required as more permanent forms of treatment.

Consult with us for undiagnosed head, neck, facial pain, whiplash injuries, jaw malposition or TM joint arthritis. Dentistry brings a new approach to diagnosis and treatment along with providing objective, fully documented case reports.

Source: TMData Resources

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