Headaches, jaw pain and teeth grinding: are these problems all related?

People who suffer from TMJ dysfunction often have a clicking or popping sensation when opening or closing their mouths. This clicking or popping, which happens when the disk in the joint is not in the correct position when the jaw is moving, can be so pronounced that others may even be able to hear it. Other common symptoms include headaches, neck pain, and ringing in the ears (often referred to as tinnitus). One of the major causes of TMJ dysfunction is bruxism, a repetitive clenching or grinding of the teeth. This typically happens at night while sleeping, so people may not be aware of it until their dentist notices early wearing on the teeth or a spouse or family member may hear the grinding sound. Another potential cause of TMJ dysfunction includes activities where the mouth is forceful closed in a misaligned position such as in excessive gum chewing and nail biting. Degenerative joint disease, structural mouth and tooth issues, and neck and upper back posture can also contribute to TMJ dysfunction. It is important to assess posture because when posture is poor, it disrupts the normal mechanics of the muscles responsible for chewing, putting additional strain on the joint.

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