Jaw Pain and Teeth Grinding

Your jaw impacts more than just chewing! Proper jaw function can improve your oral health, sleep quality, and comfort.

Do you have painful jaw muscles or wake up with headaches? Do your jaw joints make clicking or popping sounds when you yawn or chew? At Dr. Katie To, Center for Integrative Wellness and Cosmetic Dentistry, we treat jaw joint dysfunction to improve your comfort, sleep, and overall quality of life.

How the Jaw Joints Impact Your Health

Dr. Katie believes in a holistic approach to dentistry. What that means is that how the entire facial structure, teeth, gums, joints, and bone work together plays a role in the treatment she recommends. Teeth grinding and temporomandibular joint disorders, also called TMJ or TMD, can impact nearly every aspect of your oral health.

  • Uneven wear on the teeth
  • Broken or worn teeth
  • Cracked teeth
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Boxy looking, overdeveloped jaw muscles
  • Interrupted sleep
  • Painful face, neck, shoulders, and back
  • Jaw joint deterioration
  • Moving teeth 
  • Gum recession

To determine if your jaw joints are the cause of your discomfort and the breakdown of your smile, Dr. Katie will perform a full evaluation.

How We Evaluate the Jaw Joints

Often palpation of the jaws can reveal the telltale grinding and popping that damaged joints make. In other cases, more technical testing can help her develop a diagnosis and conclusion.

  • Medical and jaw health history
  • Jaw vibration
  • Tech scan
  • X-rays

Dr. Katie will strive to determine whether joint function is the cause or if the joints are impacted by teeth grinding, muscle tension, or poor occlusion (bite). Once she uncovers the underlying cause of the problem, Dr. To will design a custom treatment plan to resolve pain and promote jaw joint health.

Treatment for TMJ Disorders

Depending on the patient’s needs, treatment to relieve jaw pain may include the following types of treatment.

Orthotic appliance – Sometimes called a nightguard, an orthotic appliance is actually much more than a barrier between the upper and lower teeth. The surface of the appliance, sometimes called a splint, will promote the correct positioning of the jaw when the teeth come together. TMJ oral appliance therapy is particularly useful for patients who have a nighttime teeth grinding or clenching habit.

Reconstruction – Severe wear of the teeth can lead to overclosure or an unstable biting surface. Dental crowns can restore the size and shape of the teeth to improve comfort both when chewing and at rest. During reconstruction, Dr. Katie can balance the bite to avoid future problems.

Occlusal equilibration – High points on the teeth and dentistry can lead to the jaw sliding in one direction or the other to accommodate closing. Tiny hairline adjustments, also called bite-balancing, to the enamel of the teeth eliminate high points and allow the jaw to close comfortably.

Because painful jaw joints and muscles can cause fatigue, exhaustion, and general unwellness, many of our patients find that addressing the problem (rather than just the symptoms) gives them a new lease on life!

Contact Our Katy, TX Dental Office

If you have jaw pain, popping or locking jaw joints, or sensitive teeth, you might have a TMJ disorder. We can help. Give us a call to arrange a jaw evaluation with Dr. Katie and our expert dental team.