Unmasking the source of your pain: Headaches, discomfort could be caused by your bite


By Stephen W. Durham

The strongest muscles in the body are not necessarily the biggest.  Your jaw muscles make this one of the most powerful joints in the body, and when it is not aligned it can be the source of a variety of pains, discomforts and distractions.

Dr. Stephen Durham
Dr. Stephen Durham

In fact, some studies show more than 92% of recurrent headaches can be traced to TMD — temporomandibular disorder — a strain on jaw muscles caused by faulty alignment of the jaw.  People feel a bad bite in a great many ways, and in places they might not know are connected with the jaw.

A variety of pains caused by “the great pretender”

It is estimated that 25% to 30% of people suffer from TMD.  Possibly two or three times that many people have the disorder and don’t know it yet.

So TMD is sometimes called “the great pretender.” It shows up as neck aches, sleep disorders, poor posture, numbness in the shoulders and down the arms, dizziness, a ringing in the ears, clicking or grating in the jaw joints, pain behind the eyes — and headaches, even migraines.

When TMD is relieved, people experience more energy, a sunnier disposition and even a better appearance, because the source of their pain is resolved.  In addition, fixing TMD can restore facial height, relax the features and make smiling something that just comes up more often.  When people feel better, they look better.

Step One: Relax the jaw.

Each patient is unique, so the first step is to find the optimal jaw alignment for him or her.  Step one is to relax the jaw muscles.  In many cases this can be accomplished in about an hour using the techniques available today.

Then we capture that best bite position in a custom-made model.  From this model we craft a kind of mouthpiece that fits over your lower teeth and helps your jaw into a healthy position.

Using this device according to an individualized plan for each patient, the jaw learns its way back to the unique position that aligns teeth, jaws and muscles the way they are meant to be.

Life after pain: Improvement all over

When it is no longer unbalanced or over-closed, the jaw plays its vital role in a good head-neck relationship. The body responds right away.  Muscles come unstrained. Nerve feedback from the head and neck to the brain is calmed. That calms other body systems, too, and the overall effect is less tension and better health.

TMD goes undiagnosed so often, and the effects are so profound, that the benefit of getting to the bottom of it is very great indeed.  A sense of that impact comes from a Nobel Prize winner in brain research who said that 90% of the brain’s output is devoted to relating the body to gravity.  So misalignment, like TMD, can be a big drain on your outlook, your energy and your brain’s capacity for thinking, operating the body and healing.

Fixing that alignment can be one of the most worthwhile steps toward a patient’s own best health.

Durham Dental is located at Beaufort Town Center. Visit www.DrStephenDurham.com or call 843-379-5400.

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