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TMJ: Something to chew on…

Do you wake up in the mornings with headaches, sore teeth or a sore jaw?  Neck and shoulder pain?

If so, you may be clenching and grinding your teeth at night while you are asleep.  It is estimated that over 95% of people experience this uncontrollable habit at some point in their lives.  Teeth grinding may be caused by stress, or sleep disorders, and abnormal bite, crooked or missing teeth.

These habits can escalate into serious pain and problems of the temporomandibular joint, or the TMJ, which joins the lower jaw to the skull. TMj disorders can mimic migraine headaches, earaches, sinus infections and tooth abscesses.  It can cause dizziness, ringing in the ears and muscle pain that radiates down the neck and shoulders.

A clenched jaw can exert up to 300 pounds of pressure, which can wear teeth down, causing painful cracks.  Teeth can become very sensitive to cold temperatures.  Over time, arthritis, inflammation and degenerative joint changes can occur.  The disc in the joint can shift and make clicking or popping sounds.  It can also “lock” out of place.

Headaches, jaw and muscle pain can seriously disrupt the quality of one’s life.  Often time’s people are treated with anti-depressants or prescription pain medicine only to mask or place a band aid over the underlying condition.

Recognizing that stress and chronic pain is hard to eliminate from our lives, over the past several years I have intensified my research into the proper diagnosis and treatment of these conditions.

Conservative pain-free treatment options are available and have the potential to eliminate the painful symptoms linked with tooth clenching and grinding.  First, an accurate disorder must be diagnosed by a qualified dentist extensively trained in the jaw joints, bite problems, and the musculature associated with the face, head, and neck.  Frequently, diagnostic imaging such as MRI and CT Scans are required to make an accurate diagnosis.

Once a diagnosis has been made, a treatment plan can be developed based on each individual’s condition and needs.  And just like any other problem, if left untreated it will only get worse.

If headaches, face, or jaw pain are disrupting the quality of your life or you think you may be clenching or grinding your teeth, why not consider a proper examination rather than living with the pain?

Dr. Christine Wenrick DMD
Dr. Christine Wenrick DMD
Dr. Christine Wenrick is a graduate from the University of Pittsburgh, school of dental medicine. While in dental school she received special awards for her performance in oral surgery, endodontics, dental implantology, and cosmetic dentistry. She taught dental anatomy to junior dental students during her senior year also. Dr. Wenrick is a missionary and has traveled to many third world countries providing oral surgical procedures in remote villages for the poor. She provides oral surgery to the needy in the Clarksville area as well. She has been advancing her dental education for the past several years with a focus on treating jaw joint problems, headaches, and bite disorders linked from habits of clenching and grinding of teeth. While providing prideful dentistry to her patients, Dr. Wenrick pays special attention to the artwork necessary to give back a natural lifelike appearance while restoring teeth. Dr. wenrick expects high qaulity dentistry in her practice while creating healthy beautiful smiles.

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