The simple answer is “Yes – dentistry can give you a headache” – and I am not just speaking about the unexpected emergency fee! Let me explain here how patients often do not associate symptoms with dentistry.
I recently had a new patient visit me as they had just moved to the area and during our New Patient Consultation I always check what we call in the business, ‘the function of the TMJ joint’. In other words we are looking to see that you can use your jaw muscles and joints efficiently and without pain as this can have such an impact on the quality of your life. The gentleman in question had recently had a crown placed at his previous dental practice and it certainly was a beautiful looking crown. My consultation however, revealed that my patient had started to suffer from headaches. He told me that there was tenderness in the side of the face and this radiated into headaches, which was particularly painful on waking in the morning. Further investigation revealed what I suspected – that the new crown was not in harmony with the jaw joint interfering with the function of his jaw. The new crown was also quite tender, however, he had put this down to it settling in after treatment.
This had gone on for several months and had started to impact on his sleep meaning that my patient found it tricky to focus at work and his partner was accusing him of being a Grumpy Old Man! Unfortunately I have seen many cases where this has gone unrecognised and untreated as TMJD is generally an optional postgraduate study. To compound the problem many other healthcare professionals are not aware of the dental solution for TMJ treatment. In untreated cases this can result in the development of an anxiety disorder or depression, as the feelings of frustration and defeat increase as the pain remains. I am grateful to work at Evolve Dentistry, where this disorder is recognised and I have the opportunity to literally change patients’ lives. How do I do this?
Once I have the diagnosis then sometimes it is a simple case of adjusting the bite of the patient and this I would do in the course of the consultation. In this case, my patient and I decided that a de-programming appliance would be the best treatment option. His appliance once adjusted after it was made in the laboratory ensuring a bespoke fit for this patient. The great news is that I can report that the patient found relief from his headaches within a fortnight of wearing the appliance at night and most importantly to him, his partner was delighted to see him like his old self again. The key message here is that patients do not always associate their facial pain and headaches with dental care, so it is important to attend for regular examinations not just for your oral health but also for your total well-being.
If you suspect you maybe suffering from a TMJ disorder or you have a family, friend or colleague who has these symptoms then contact one of Evolve’s friendly and efficient Welcome Team to find out more information or to book your consultation by calling 01275 842550 today.
Dr Jonathan Sproson is a General and Cosmetic Dentist at Evolve Dentistry and was a previous finalist for Dentist of the Year in National Dental Awards.
He started to study TMJ disorders when he started seeing more complex cosmetic cases. This was to ensure the longevity of the work he does for his patients.
From here TMJD became a particular special interest and now enjoys the huge professional reward that comes from relieving patients’ of the cycle of despair they find themselves in when they suffer pain from TMJD.
Jonathan is a member of the British Society of Occlusal Studies as well as a Full Member of The British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. He regularly lectures to other professionals on TMJD and is passionate about collaborating with other medics and body therapists to help patients with TMJD.
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