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Chaparral Village Dental & Orthodontics

27287 Nicolas Road Suite 104, Temecula, CA 92591


Office blog


Jaw Tightness and Tension: What Does It Mean?

Posted on September 8, 2019 at 1:37 AM Comments comments (547)
When you have tightness or tension in your jaw, it can be uncomfortable to say the least. You could be experiencing pain in your neck and throat as well as your jaw. You could also have trouble opening your mouth all the way, or it may even be impossible for you to do this. You may even have symptoms that don’t appear to have anything to do with your jaw, including headaches or ear infections. What does all this mean? Here are the top three things your jaw tightness and tension may be pointing to!

Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders

You’ve likely heard of TMJ disorders, where a misalignment, trauma, or incorrect bite could result in jaw pain and odd sounds. People often experience clicking or popping noises when opening and closing their mouth in addition to headaches, jaw tightness, and even teeth grinding as a result of these conditions.

These disorders can be very uncomfortable, but fortunately, your dentist may be able to help! Talk to your dentist about any jaw pain including any tension or tightness that you’re experiencing. He or she can perform a simple jaw exam to determine if your bite or your temporomandibular joint could be the problem.

Stress or Anxiety

Many people are taught to keep their emotions to themselves and deal with feelings such as anxiety or stress inwardly. This can lead to tension throughout the body, and you may experience this tension in your jaw muscles. When you’re under pressure or feeling stressed out, you may tighten your jaw in response to these stressors, leading to jaw tightness and tension.

There are other ways to handle stress and anxiety rather than placing the pressure on your jaw or your muscles. This type of tension could lead to dull headaches or even intense migraines and can worsen your existing stress. Talk to your doctor or your dentist about healthy habits for handling stress rather than taking that tension in your jaw!

Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)

Do you know if you grind your teeth? Teeth grinding is a common habit that many people aren’t aware they have. Whether you grind your teeth in times of stress or even while sleeping, this could be the sneaky culprit behind your jaw tightness and tension. Bruxism is the technical name for teeth grinding, and bruxism can be extremely damaging to your teeth and put immense pressure on your jaw.

If you grind your teeth at night, you may wake up with jaw pain, a dull headache, or even sore teeth and gums. Since bruxism puts so much pressure on your teeth, this can lead to chips and fractures, enamel erosion, and inflammation, all of which can increase your risk for tooth loss over time. Talk to your dentist about bruxism—he or she can perform an exam and determine if you’re exhibiting signs of teeth grinding that can benefit from treatment.

You don’t have to live with jaw tightness and tension. These symptoms often point to a larger problem that can easily be addressed with your dentist. No one should have to live with pain, so talk to your dentist about your jaw aches and tension to see what’s causing it. There is treatment for bruxism, stress, and TMJ disorders!

Dental occlusion/TMJ and general body health

Posted on June 21, 2012 at 3:42 AM Comments comments (207)
During the treatment of symptoms originating from disorders of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and occlusion, it was found that restoring the TMJ to its normal condition resulted in a change of general body health. In most cases, this change was for the better. Owing to similar reports, a connection between TMJ status and general body health was therefore hypothesised. However, the mechanism of this relationship remains unclear.

Researchers identify potential risk factors for TMD

Posted on May 22, 2012 at 12:13 AM Comments comments (199)
Researchers have identified a list of characteristics they say will eventually help health professionals identify patients who are at risk of developing temporomandibular disorders, according to a report published recently in an issue of the NYSDA news. 

In following a large number of control individuals, as well as people reporting temporomandibular disorder pain, Richard Ohrbach, DDS, PhD, director of the Oral Diagnostic Sciences at the University of Buffalo School of Dental Medicine and a clinical psychologist, and other researchers found that a high rate of variables they  assessed were associated with painful temporomandibular disorders.
Some symptoms of themporomandibular disorders can include:

• Pain in the chewing muscles or jaw joint;
• Pain in the jaw, neck, or face;
• Stiff jaw muscles;
• A jaw that locks or has limited movement;
• Painful clicking, popping, or grating in the jaw joint; and
• Changes in the fit between upper and lower teeth.

Temporomandibular disorders are estimated to affect more than 10 million Americans; women more so than men, according to the national Institutes of Health.

Journal of the California Dental Association, March, 2012

TMD (2)

Posted on December 16, 2011 at 9:47 PM Comments comments (224)
What causes TMJ dysfunction?

We are all exposed to stresses in our environment.
Let us call these external stresses. A typical reaction to these stresses is muscle contraction: tight shoulders and neck, bail­ed fists, and clenched jaws. If the jaws are habitually clenched, due to a lot of stress, anxiety, and/or frustrations, and if the teeth do not support the jaws properly, then the jaw joints become jammed and overclosed, causing damage to the joints. This may oc­cur with totally natural teeth, (even in teenagers), with partially natural plus some false teeth; with full dentures.

External jaw muscles

Usually the disc in the joint is pushed forward, the back ligament of the disc becomes stretched and inflamed, and the knobs (condyles) in the joint make the displaced disc pop or crunch when the jaw is opened and closed. After many years of this, there may be arthritic changes in the joint, a one-way degenerative process. This damage to the TMJs, and the associated muscle spasm, causes pain, not only in the joints themselves, but through muscle spasms in other parts of the body, resulting in many of the symp­toms listed above. The pain syndromes then cause, in addition to the external stress, internal stress which further saps the body and spirit of energy.

If the suffering patient could permanent­ly relax and not clench his/her jaws, the symptoms related to TMJ dysfunction would disappear.

The slogan: "Lips together, teeth apart, From this habit do not depart", may help, if consistently practiced.

The Real Answer, however, is to find that position of the lower jaw, using the Myomonitor, or other suitable procedures, where all jaw muscles can clench and con­tract in balanced harmony without jamm­ing, overloading and damaging the jaw joints, and pressing adversely on bones of the skull.

A specially-trained and experienced dentist can help to diagnose and measure the muscle spasm and joint damage. He can begin the treatment of TMJ disorder by repositioning the lower jaw with a carefully­fitted plastic bite splint to allow the damaged joints to heal.

Improper nutrition, as well as excessive consumption of "junk food", and lack of adequate vitamins and minerals can cause considerable additional internal stress and thus contribute to TMJ disorders. A nutri­tional analysis to establish the individual's nutritional profiles and needs goes a long way toward relieving stress of TMJ origin.

Only after orthopedic repositioning of the lower jaw and relieving over-loaded jaw joints, and after eliminating stressful eating habits, should we consider Biofeed­back training and relaxation methods. Unless structural changes are made, as soon as a stressful experience re­occurs, the still unbalanced and unsup­ported jaws will be clenched and the TMJs will be overloaded again.

The cooperation of various health-care providers in achieving a balance between mind, body structure and body chemistry may lead to a healthier, happier and more productive life.

Elimination of TMJ dysfunction plays a key role in achieving this goal.
(By R.L. Bubenzer, DDS, FAGD)

TMD (1)

Posted on December 6, 2011 at 3:40 PM Comments comments (280)
TMD (TMJ disorder) is a series of signs and symptoms associated with the Temporal mandibular joints, which include:

  • Headaches
  • Jaw joint pain
  • Jaw joint noise or clicking
  • Limited mouth opening
  • Ear congestion
  • Dizziness
  • Ringing in the ear
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Loose teeth
  • Clenching or grinding
  • Facial pain
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Chewing difficulties
  • Neck pain
  • Postural problems
  • Tingling of the fingertips
  • Hot & cold sensitivity of teeth
  • Nervousness or insomnia

TMJ disorders and their associated pain consequences are being recognized more and more by the prevention-oriented health care providers. These disorders are fre­ quently discussed in popular magazines and in health columns of daily newspapers.
TMJ stands for Iemporo Mandibular J.oint which is the jaw joint in front of the ear. If you, or someone you know, are suf­fering from the following symptoms in various combinations and intensities such as:

frequent headaches
in the temples, behind the eyes
in the back of the head,
and "like a band around the head",

migraine headaches;
sinus headaches;
popping jaw joints when eating and/or yawning;
stiff neck and shoulders;
tingly fingers; low back pain;
frequent dizzy spells; light-headedness;

then you might have consulted your family physician, and through him the otologist (ear-specialist), radiologist, neurologist and psychiatrist, usually in that order. When, after many tests, nothing was found (and when after attempted drug therapy your pain really did not go away), it might have been suggested that you "learn to live with your pain" or that you would do well to take tranquilizers regularly.

Some well-informed health care provider may also have suggested that the pain might be related to a "bad bite" and may have suggested that you see your dentist. However, not every general dentist recognizes and treats TMJ dysfunction. On­ly specially-trained and qualified dentists can help you with your TMJ-related pro­blems.

To test whether your TMJ's are function­ing properly or are showing signs of dysfunction, place your index finger tip in front of your ear onto the side of the "knob" (condyle) in each joint and then open and close your mouth. If it hurts - or pops or creaks in the joints - they are not function­ing properly. The same is true if these symptoms appear when you place the little fingers into the ear canals, (pad of the fingertip forward, nails to the back, elbows up and out), pressing forward while open­ing and closing the mouth. This self-test for TMJ disorders may give you new insight as to the cause of your chronic pain.

There is hope for relief. (to be continued...)
(By Dr. R. L. Bubenzer, DDS, FAGD)

TMJ disorder and orthodontics

Posted on October 16, 2011 at 2:42 AM Comments comments (166)
“Doctor, I was fine until I had my braces on, but now I think I have TMJ.” In every orthodontic practice, this situation arises consistently and with alarming regularity. TMJ disorder is one of the most common problems affecting millions of people each year. Read more.

What is TMJ?

Posted on October 14, 2011 at 3:51 PM Comments comments (126)
TMJ is the abbreviation of Temporo-mandibular Joint, which is the joint that connects the jawbone to the skull. Every human has one of these joints on each side of the head, somewhere around the ear. Anything that you do to move your jaw requires these joints to function properly. That means you can’t eat, talk, or even smile and frown without functioning TMJ. Place your fingers in front of or inside the ear canals, try opening and closing your mouth to detect the movement of TMJ.

TMJ is a “loose-fitting”, rotating and sliding joint with a fibrocartilage covered, football shaped ball (condyle), fibrous pad (disc), fibrocartilage lined socket (fossa), ligaments, tendons, blood vessels and nerves. The disc functions as a moving shock absorber and stabilizer between the condyle and fossa.  As the jaw opens, normally the condyle first rotates and then slides forward within the fossa with the disc between the condyle and the fossa. In normal, healthy joint, the condyle is positioned in the front lower portion of the fossa and the dis moves forward and backward together with the condyle. The area behind the condyle and in front of the ear is full of blood vessels and nerve terminals, which causes TMJ pains when compressed by a condyle that moves too far back during mouth closing. 

The muscles of mastication (jaw muscles) attach to the mandible (lower jaw), maxilla (upper jaw), skull and neck. The muscles of mastication open, close, protrude and laterally move the jaw, enabling you to talk, chew, and swallow. The supporting muscles of mastication (neck and shoulder girdle muscles) stabilize the skull on the neck during jaw function. Dysfunction or spasm of these muscles is an important cause for TMD.