jaws-stress.jpg A clenched jaw can cause major problems later on though most people do not realize this fact. It exerts up to 300 pounds of pressure which wears down teeth and cracks them, particularly where there are cavities or old fillings. Known as the Temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, which joins the jaw to the skull, left untreated, this can lead to arthritis, inflammation and degenerative changes in the jaw joint.

Highlights of Temporomandibular Joint ( TMJ )
a. A headache, sore teeth or a sore jaw in the morning is often an indication of this problem.
b. Symptoms mimic migraine headaches, earaches, sinus infections and tooth abscesses.
c. This problem can manifest itself suddenly.
d. It can cause ulcers, hypertension and dental problems.
e. It can also cause dizziness, ringing in the ears and muscle pain that radiates down the neck and shoulders.
f. In some people, the cause is often a misaligned bite, either from birth or a trauma like a fall or a collision in sports.
g. Much of the tension comes out at night, when higher centers of the brain are asleep.
h. This problem is more common in women than in men.

Preventive behavior
a. While working at a computer, the keyboard should be low and monitor high to keep chin from jutting forward.
b. Avoid sleeping on your stomach as this can strain neck and jaw muscles.
c. Rest your tongue behind the upper teeth and keep the lips closed.

Treatment for TMJ
a. A night guard that fits between the teeth and makes grinding more difficult is recommended.
b. Anti-inflammatories or muscle relaxants can also be used.
c. 250 to 400 milligrams daily of magnesium citrate help relieve muscle tension.
d. Physical therapy with massage, ultrasound or electrogalvanic stimulation can help relax the contracting muscles and exercises can help keep them limber.
e. Botox Injections temporarily weaken jaw muscles that are in spasm.
f. Activated trigger points can be relieved with an injection of saline or even a dry needle.
g. In rare cases, surgery may also be recommended.
h. Some smaller appliances that permit talking for patients who can't stop clenching during the day are helpful.

Cost of the appliances
Between $300 to $1,800.
Devices that correct misaligned bites can cost $2,500.
Over-the-counter mouth guards cost $20