Chronic Headaches? It Might Be TMD

Do you suffer from chronic and frequent headaches or neck aches? A possible cause might be Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD).


Today, we are going to cover the symptoms of TMD and what causes it. Plus, some ways that you can prevent TMD from occurring. If you need treatment, our experienced team at the Oral & Facial Surgery Institute can help you. Contact us today for more information.


What is TMD?

TMD often appears in the form of recurring headaches. This is because your temporomandibular joints (TMJ) that connect your jaw and skull are being overworked. This can be painful and might restrict the range of motion your jaw has.


There are many symptoms of TMD. However, it can be easily recognized if you often experience pain in your jaw and have frequent headaches or pains in your neck. TMD can even affect your ears, making them ring or feel stuffy.


If you experience a locked jaw or are having trouble opening your mouth, be sure to contact us right away. We can get you started on treatment as soon as you are available. If your jaw is locking up, you do not want to put off scheduling an appointment.


How does TMD Cause Headaches?

When the muscles of the TMJ become tense, they can cause pain to more muscles around them. The pain often spreads to the side of your head- causing headaches. This type of headache can be hard to pinpoint as the culprit.


This is because a TMJ caused headache will often spread over your head and face, making it difficult to distinguish it from tension headaches. If you suspect your jaw is causing you pain, then you can make a few changes to prevent it from happening so often.


How to Avoid TMD

You can do this right now at home, simply focus on relaxing your face. The tension in your jaw is what causes TMD pain, so checking in on yourself to see if you are clenching your jaw during the day is a great start.


You will also want to avoid eating hard foods and chewing gum. Aside from that, always practicing good posture helps release tension from your body. If you grind your teeth at night, this can also cause pain and headaches.


How is TMD Treated?

We have many options for non-surgical treatment. However, if you do not respond to those methods, we can perform oral surgery. This involves either arthroscopy or direct jaw surgery. Keep in mind that we will attempt to treat your TMD with non-surgical methods first.



If you suffer from chronic headaches and are having trouble figuring out why TMD might be the problem. Be sure to relax your mouth if you feel that your jaw is clenched. Doing this can help prevent TMD and the headaches that come with it.


Be sure to contact our office at the Oral & Facial Surgery Institute if you can not get relief from jaw pain by yourself. We can let you know what treatment options are available to you.

5 Tips to Keep Your Jaw Healthy as You Age

We all know aging is a natural part of life. And most of us start considering ways in which we can keep our bodies healthy as we age. We eat better. We step up our exercise routine. We even take extra vitamin supplements in the hopes that our bones and joints remain in healthy condition.


So why do so many of us take our jaws for granted?


We all know that tooth decay and gum disease can happen at any time—even if you’re older than 65. And most of us take preventative steps to combat it. But did you know that musculoskeletal conditions such as TMJD can occur in up to 12 percent of the U.S. population? And did you know that older Americans are particularly susceptible to it?


Don’t take the health of your jaws for granted. Here are 5 tips to keep them strong and healthy.


1.   Healthy Bones, Healthy Jaws


We all know calcium prevents osteoporosis. But most of us quickly forget that our jaws are also made of bone. As our bodies age, our ability to absorb calcium declines. Postmenopausal women in particular are more susceptible to bone disease and should strive for a calcium intake of at least 1200 mgs a day. But don’t think that men can’t be impacted by bone decay, either. Even if you think your intake is adequate, men between the ages of 45 and 70 should still try to ensure at least 1000 mgs of calcium each day; adjust your intake to 1200 mg.


2.   Stop Grinding Your Teeth!


Teeth grinding is a habit many of us are entirely aware of. That’s because it happens primarily at night while we’re asleep. But teeth grinding can also occur during times of stress and even in deep thought. It’s not just responsible for tooth damage. Headaches are just as common with tooth grinding and inevitably what goes for teeth will eventually affect your jaw, as well. Typically, your surgeon can identify signs of damaged teeth caused by grinding, and may even suggest Botox injections if the need is particularly drastic..


3.   Eat Clean. Eat Healthier


If you’re like most Americans, you’re probably already eating a balanced diet as you age. But that’s the key word: balance. Strive for a mixture of hard and soft foods for a healthy jaw, including calcium rich foods such as:


  • Almonds
  • Beans and lentils
  • Celery
  • Cheese
  • Milk
  • Oranges
  • Sardines
  • Seeds, nuts and grains
  • Tofu


4.   Give Your Jaw A Break


It’s common to recommend a course of regular jaw stretches for maximal health as we age. The problem comes when we overwork them. The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) can be overused by excessive talking, eating too many hard foods… even chewing gum! It needs time to rest. Don’t try to stretch your jaw for more than 10 minutes each morning and massage it regularly if you feel stiffness or tenderness.


5.   Visit Your Dentist More Frequently


It’s a good rule of thumb that most people under the age of 50 should visit their dentist at least once a quarter. But as we age, the resilience of our gums, jaw and teeth begins to fade slowly. As a result, you may need to find it necessary to visit your dentist or oral health specialist more often to keep your jaws at peak performance. Remember, it’s the health of your entire mouth you need to be concerned with as you age.


And you won’t get a chance to buy another one.


If you’re in Southern Utah and are concerned about the health of your jaw, you may be experiencing more than periodic discomfort. We can help. Find out more about Dr. Shawn Davis and his team at the Oral and Facial Surgery Institute.



When Is Jaw Surgery Recommended?

Generally, most patients look to avoid surgery of any kind. However, there are times when it is recommended to “bite the bullet” and have the procedure done. Jaw surgery, in particular, can be daunting, but a surgery done in the careful hands of the Oral & Facial Surgery Institute can provide you with a huge improvement in the quality of life. There are a few key situations in which jaw surgery is highly recommended.


TMJ Suffering


Standing for the temporomandibular joint disorder, TMJ can be an agonizing condition that can be treated with surgery as a last resort, to great effect. The condition causes pain and tenderness, and, if left unchecked, it can even cause your jaw to lock, making it difficult to open and close your mouth, as well as to chew. While most cases of TMJ can be treated nonsurgically, persistent cases can see massive benefits from surgery.




Oftentimes, jaw surgery is performed in coordination with other orthodontic treatments to correct severe issues with the jaw alignment. These can be both aesthetic and functional issues that get treated by surgery. Examples of this include an open bite, which is a space between the top and bottom teeth, even when your mouth is closed, protruding jaw and a receding lower jaw. Braces are sometimes used in the course of treatment both before and after surgery, to keep everything moving and ensure the most positive result.


Respiratory Ailments


There are even times when jaw surgery may be recommended for certain breathing conditions that can actually be a result of structural defects within the jaw. One common example is sleep apnea, a problem that plagues millions of Americans. In some instances, the breathing obstruction can be remedied by a surgical procedure that will open up the airways and allow restful sleep without the aid of a CPAP or other device. Another example is chronic mouth breathing, which can be caused by an issue with the structure of the jaw as well.


There are a plethora of possible reasons as to why one may need jaw surgery. Although it can seem like an intimidating surgery, in certain cases, the benefits of jaw surgery will make it worth it. Discussing any conditions that may be improved by such a surgery with Dr. Shawn B. Davis can help you decide if surgery is the right option for you.

Is a Clicking Jaw Something to Worry About?

Picture yourself driving down the road when you immediately begin to hear a clinking sound coming from under your car. What do you do? You pull over, examine it, and consider possible options to fix it. Similarly, when your jaw starts to make noises that it’s not supposed to, it would be wise to follow the same steps! Let us help you understand whether or not a clicking jaw is something to worry about. 

What is TMJ/TMD?

Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD) refers to the pain and dysfunction of the muscles of mastication (the muscles that move the jaw) and the temporomandibular joints (the joints which connect the mandible to the skull).

Do you have TMJ/TMD?

Some common symptoms of TMD include:

  • Swelling on the sides of the face
  • Muscle spasms in the jaw area
  • A change in the alignment of the top and bottom teeth
  • Locked jaw or limited opening of the mouth
  • Pain in the jaw area
  • Pain, ringing, or stuffiness in the ears
  • Frequent headaches or neck aches
  • Clicking or popping sound when the jaw moves

Professional Consultation

If you feel that you’ve been experiencing some of the symptoms listed above, you may want to take the time to schedule a professional exam. Doing so will allow you to know whether or not TMD has been the cause of your symptoms.

Treatment Options

TMD can be treated in many ways, dependant upon your professional diagnosis. Non-surgical options include short-term, non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs for pain and muscle relaxation, bite plate or splint therapy, and even stress management counseling.

If non-surgical treatment is unsuccessful or there is clear joint damage, oral surgery may be necessary. The surgical treatment of TMD can involve either arthroscopy or direct jaw surgery, depending on the extent of the damage.

What is TMJ/TMD?

You may have heard of TMD or TMJ, but do you know what they are and what the difference is?

Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD)

Millions of Americans suffer from chronic facial and neck pain as well as recurring headaches. In some cases, this pain is due to Temporomandibular Disorder, or TMD.

Your temporomandibular joints (TMJ) connect your lower jawbone to your skull. These joints get a lot of use throughout the day as you speak, chew, swallow, and yawn. Pain in and around these joints can be unpleasant and may even restrict movement.

Symptoms of TMD include:

  • Pain in the jaw area
  • Pain, ringing, or stuffiness in the ears
  • Frequent headaches or neck aches
  • Clicking or popping sound when the jaw moves
  • Swelling on the sides of the face
  • Muscle spasms in the jaw area
  • A change in the alignment of top and bottom teeth
  • Locked jaw or limited opening of the mouth

Treating TMD

TMD can be treated many ways, depending on your diagnosis. Non-surgical options include short-term, non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs for pain and muscle relaxation, bite plate or splint therapy, and even stress management counseling.

If non-surgical treatment is unsuccessful or there is clear joint damage, oral surgery may be necessary. The surgical treatment of TMD can involve either arthroscopy or direct jaw surgery, depending on the extent of the damage.

Prevention is Always the Best Medicine

There are a few simple steps you can take at home or work to prevent TMD from becoming more severe, or to prevent it from occurring in the first place:

  • Relax your face — remember the rule: “Lips together, teeth apart”
  • Avoid grinding your teeth
  • Avoid constant gum chewing
  • Don’t cradle the phone receiver between your head and shoulder — either use a headset or hold the receiver in your hand
  • Chew food evenly on both sides of your mouth
  • Do not sit with your chin resting on your hand
  • Practice good posture — keep your head up, back straight, and shoulders squared

We understand it’s not always preventable, that’s why we’re here. Call us today to schedule your consult.


What are My Sedation Options?

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Sedation Options

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With so many different sedation options and techniques, it can become overwhelming to try and understand which option will be best for you. Your oral surgeon will work with you to decide on a personalized sedation plan that will give you the care you need while ensuring your comfort and safety every step of the way.

Local Anesthetics

  • The most common type of local anesthetic is lidocaine, which is administered by injection.

  • Often used for simple surgeries, such as gum treatments and tooth extractions. 

  • There are two kinds of numbing injections. A block injection numbs an entire region of your mouth, such as one side of your lower jaw. An infiltration injection numbs a smaller area. This is the area near where the injection was given.

Nitrous Oxide with Local Anesthetics (“Laughing Gas”)

  • Used for simple oral surgical treatments, such as extractions, wisdom teeth removal, and implant replacements.

  • When Nitrous Oxide is used with local anesthetic, patients won’t feel pain or anxiety.

  • Administered through a small mask that fits right over your nose.

In Office IV Sedation or General Anesthesia

  • Patients who receive this option go between consciousness and unconsciousness throughout their procedure and typically don’t remember the procedure.

  • Recommended that patients who receive deep sedation have a parent, spouse, or friend accompany them to appointments because it can take several hours for the sedative to wear off.

Your oral surgeon is also licensed by the state to administer general anesthesia, so you can receive the care you need in the comfort of our office. We provide general anesthesia for patients who need all types of oral surgery. Because of the anxiety related to dental procedures, you may choose general anesthesia for procedures as simple as wisdom tooth removal and implant placement, or as complex as full-mouth reconstruction.

Hospital-Based General Anesthesia

  • Used when oral surgery is performed at a hospital.

  • Administered by an anesthesiologist who will monitor your vital signs throughout the procedure.

  • Most commonly used for facial reconstructive surgery and jaw reconstruction, TMJ, and patients who have complex medical conditions.

Because general anesthesia causes drowsiness for several hours after it is administered, you will be required to have a family member or friend drive you to and from your appointment. After your treatment, you should not drive, drink alcohol, or operate machinery.