Popularly called "TMJ," for the joint where the lower jaw articulates with the skull, the constellation of symptoms associated with this disorder can be complex and difficult to properly diagnose.
Symptoms may include clicking or popping sounds, headaches, muscle spasms or pain in the head and neck, migraines, ringing in the ears, or limited jaw opening.
The condition is multi-factorial, meaning that is a result of both physical (biologic) and psychological (emotional) factors, in various combinations.
The tendency to tighten up the muscles of the head and neck, or to clench or grind your teeth, either during the day or at night, tends to exacerbate problems with the TMJ. Most people do this when they are under emotional or psychological stress.
The most effective treatment would be to get rid of all your stress, but that seems to be a tall task for many people these days. Resting the jaw, and treating it similar to a sports injury, is the most important therapy.
Tooth grinding and clenching, or snoring can also be a sign that you might have Airway Problems, as the body tries to open the airway by moving the jaw to open up the back of the throat to allow free breathing. A Home Sleep Study can determine whether the condition is primarily an airway or muscular problem.
Dr. Epstein currently treats non-airway related clenching and grinding using various oral devices to interrupt nerve signals to the muscles and protect the teeth and TMJ.