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Willow Dental - The North Wales Dental and Implant Practice

Headaches and TMJ

Do you wake from a night's sleep feeling refreshed or do you experience:

  • A painful aching jaw?
  • Persistent headaches?
  • Sore or sensitive teeth?
  • A stiff neck or shoulders?

Do you have:

  • Dizziness?
  • Regular migraine type headaches?
  • Poor sleep pattern?
  • Earache, tinnitus or vertigo?

If you suffer from any of these problems, your bite (occlusion) may be the culprit.

Recent developments in diagnostic technologies have revealed that in many cases these previously uncured and painful ailments are actually symptoms of a problem with the patient's bite (occlusion) and with the function of their jaw joint, otherwise known as their Temporomandibular joint (TMJ).

If it is, we can often help you. Grinding or clenching your teeth while asleep can cause morning headaches, damage surrounding joints, cause your teeth to wear down and give pain in your muscles or toothache.


A detailed description of the symptoms is required together with a full bite examination.

How do we treat this?
We may treat your condition initially using a custom made acrylic appliance which is worn fitted over either the lower or the upper teeth at night only, for a period of time. In this way no permanent changes are made to the teeth until we are sure that we can help.


Once the initial phase of treatment is completed In the second stage, treatment to correct the problem can be implemented. This may involve some minor adjustment of your teeth, orthodontics or restorative treatment such as crowns.

Splint or jaw repositioner appliances
In addition to their role for diagnosis these appliances may be used as a longer term treatment to protect teeth from harmful night time grinding and eliminate problems that occur during a specific activity. Some problems of acute onset may be rectified simply by a period of wearing such an appliance, with no further treatment being necessary. Tolerance of these appliances is very variable from one individual to another.
Occlusal equilibration
In occlusal equilibration, the tops of the teeth are re-shaped. This is done to alleviate pressure on individual teeth. It can be likened to having a pebble in your shoe. When there is an irritant present (the pebble) your foot automatically adapts and you may walk with a limp. Similarly the jaw is able to adapt to a tooth interference in malocclusion and if the irritant tooth is re-shaped a better fit is achieved and the adaptive behaviour ceases.
Occlusal restoration
Occlusal restoration involves the replacement or reconstruction of teeth where simple reshaping procedures are insufficient to alleviate the problems. This is achieved with crowns, bridges, dentures or implants and generally involves multiple teeth.
Orthodontics or tooth movement may be used where teeth are sound but their position is causing the TMJ problems. Orthodontic treatments can be restricted to just one or two teeth, can be carried out at any age and may be possible to achieve with braces that are hardly visible.

Cost of treatment

Initial relief of symptoms and diagnosis with a splint or repositioning appliance is inexpensive.

Although definitive treatment can seem very costly, the long term cost of maintaining teeth where there are many interferences will be much more expensive. The strain on both the teeth and any fillings or crowns will result in repetitive breakages and frequent visits for costly repairs. Crowns and fillings in a good stable occlusion will last for very many years without further attention.

The importance of early assessment and treatment cannot be overstated. TMJ problems can advance in stages and grow progressively worse. Thus a minor problem now could become a major source of pain in the future. Additionally, treatment success rates are substantially higher the earlier treatment is accomplished.

Persisent headaches and TMJ


At Willows Dental, we have received advanced training for, and are committed to the effective treatment of the destructive effects of occlusal disease. We use a novel and very beneficial consultation presentation program called BiteFX that uses friendly animations to explain problems in a way that makes sense to the patient. With BiteFX, our patients quickly understand complicated concepts that were previously difficult and time consuming to explain. We can also combine photos of your teeth with the BiteFX animations to give you an even better appreciation of our treatment recommendations.

Demonstration of the BiteFX program

If you'd like to check out more details about the software, and the company that created BiteFX, you can do so at their website: www.bitefx.com.


canine guidance explanation

Canine guidance explanation

occlusal disease with lack of canine guidance

Occlusal disease with lack of canine guidance

occlusal disease with interference effects

Occlusal disease with interference effects

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