Austin TMD Headache Treatment

TMJ Disorders

Do you have a headache that just doesn’t seem to go away? Are your teeth worn, or have you experienced broken or cracked teeth? Are you aware of grinding or clenching your teeth during the day or during sleep? Do your jaw or neck muscles feel stiff and painful? If so, you may have TMD (often known as TMJ).

Located in Austin, Texas, Dr. Steinberg has had extensive training in TMJ therapy at the internationally recognized L.D. Pankey Institute (www.pankey.org) in Key Biscayne, Florida, where he is on the visiting faculty. The Pankey Institute specializes in the study of occlusion (developing a correct and stable bite relationship) and the treatment of TMD disorders, and is considered by many to be one of the leading teaching institutions for research and treatment of TMD and headache disorders.

What Exactly is TMJ?

TMJ has been used by many people through the years to describe a disorder of the TMJ – your temporomandibular joint. The TM joint itself is located directly in front of the ear and is commonly called the “jaw joint.” This joint is an anatomical orthopedic joint, just like any other joint in your body and is susceptible to the same problems as all your joints. The key to the health of any joint is lubrication. Most disorders of the TMJ are related to the lack of lubrication in the joint space. Disorders of the TMJ are medical problems that require mainstream medical orthopedic treatments like orthotics, medications and physical therapy.

TMD or Temporomandibular Disorder

TMD is an acronym for temporomandibular disorder. TMD describes many symptoms related to the jaw and supporting structures. TMD can include TMJ problems, as well as muscle pain, headaches and other types of facial pain. This disorder is a subgroup of Oralfacial pain that includes many different types of pain in the head and neck.

Common TMD Symptoms

  • Pain or discomfort around the ear, jaw joints or facial muscles
  • Headaches
  • Temple pain
  • Tooth or throat pain
  • Pain upon opening the mouth or chewing
  • Locking of the jaw joint, limited jaw opening, clicking, popping, and grating noises in the joint area
  • Uncomfortable or changing bite
  • Worn down teeth
  • Clenching, grinding, or bruxing
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Dizziness
  • Gum recession

If you have any of these symptoms for more than a week, you need to call our office for a TMD Examination.

Degeneration of the Joint

The TM joint is also subject to degeneration. We have been created to adapt to these degenerative processes. When the degenerative process exceeds the body’s ability to adapt, there is pain or loss of function. A doctor’s job is to identify all the risk factors driving this degeneration, and treat them appropriately.

Clenching or Bruxism

Most of the time the cause of the problem is over-activity of the clenching muscles; so the treatment sequence is usually designed to deal with whatever is driving those muscles. During the day, it is common that the cause is clenching in response to stress. At night, it is usually a collapsing airway, and possibly sleep apnea, that leads to clenching and grinding. While the treatment usually requires an orthotic appliance, night guard, or occlusal guard), which is designed to relax these muscles, the actual cause of the muscle activity will need to be addressed by Dr. Steinberg in order to give you long-lasting relief.

Headaches and Facial Pain

Headaches are one of the most common symptoms of TMD. Forty million Americans who suffer from headaches may have been improperly diagnosed. “Migraines,” tension headaches, and sometimes even sinus headaches, are diagnosed based on subjective symptoms reported by the patient, sometimes leading to incorrect diagnosis and treatment.

Headaches have many causes that can only be determined by careful pain history evaluation, accurate diagnostic procedures and possibly digital imaging techniques. The most common types of headaches are muscle tension headaches and migraines.

  • Muscle tension headaches usually occur in the temples or neck and are constant and sometimes throb.
  • Migraines are associated with neurological symptoms and may include light sensitivity and dizziness (the most common).
  • Sinus headaches are usually a “pressure” feeling in the forehead and under the eyes.
  • There are many other types that are less common and some that are life-threatening.

If you experience more than two headaches per week or are incapacitated by the pain, we suggest you seek collaborative care from your physician AND from a dentist experienced in TMD and total wellness like Dr. Steinberg. If you are currently under the care of a neurological headache specialist and your headaches are being managed well, we suggest you stay under the care of that doctor. But, if you find yourself frustrated by continued headaches, it may be that you have other contributing factors your current health professional may not be aware of because of their training and practice focus. These are the type of headaches that Dr. Steinberg specializes in. He has received training in many medical and dental specialties in order to diagnose and treat many types of headaches. Plus Dr. Steinberg works with the finest collaborative wellness health professionals as a team.

Your Don’t Have to Live with Pain

We don’t think a headache is something anyone should have to live with. If you have been told that your headache is simply the result of stress or sinus pressure, or that you need pain medications, please give us a call. While stress or sinus congestion may contribute to your pain, it may not be your only issue. We look at your overall health and your sleep and breathing patterns to get to the basis of your pain and help you find true and lasting relief. Let us help you begin to live again.

Does Your Bite Feel Comfortable?
Bite Rebalancing – Occlusal Splint Therapy

Dr. Steinberg can determine the optimal position of the jaw by creating an ideal bite on a device called an occlusal (or bite) splint appliance. This occlusal splint is a therapeutic device that is readjusted until we create the best, most naturally balanced bite possible on the splint. This does not involve any trimming of your natural teeth, and it is fitted over either your upper or lower teeth. Once this balance is achieved, a relaxed position of the head and neck muscles occurs, allowing proper, stable repositioning of the jaw. More definitive, long-term stabilization may then include adjusting the bite and rebalancing through reshaping of teeth, repositioning of teeth or the rebuilding of teeth with anatomically correct dental restorations.

Many medical specialists may not be aware of the link between your occlusion (bite) and headaches. Most people with this condition are not aware of how a correct bite feels, because they have always had conflict between their teeth and jaw. Dr. Steinberg is trained to determine whether there is a link between your headaches and the way your teeth fit together. We can treat these problems without drugs by helping the bite fit better. We address this through bite analysis, bite rebalancing or equilibration, use of night guards and occlusal splint therapy. Often, our patients find total relief!