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Jaw Problems

The way your teeth meet when your top and bottom jaws close down on top of each other is known as your ‘bite’. If your teeth don’t fit together properly, you could have malocclusion or ‘bad bite’ which can cause problems with your teeth, gums, the temporo-mandibular joint (TMJ) and the muscles in your face.

This misalignment, often referred to as TMJ disorder, can also cause some people to clench the jaw and grind their teeth at night. This can lead to facial pain, headaches, discomfort and clicking when biting or chewing, migraines as well as neck and shoulder pain, even back pain.

If you recognise any of these symptoms or suffer with these on a daily basis, you will need to see a dentist to treat your problems, or get referred to a specialist if necessary.

In some cases, the treatment includes wearing a hard plastic appliance at night, which is made to measure and fitted onto your bite accurately, so that when you bite on it your teeth are positioned so that your muscles are relaxed. This also protects your teeth from becoming worn down by grinding. Depending on the origin and severity of your problem, you may need orthodontic treatment or maxillofacial surgery. Other solutions may include replacing missing teeth or adjusting any ill-fitting bridgework that you may have.

The important thing to do is see your dentist as soon as possible so your problem does not become worse over time and require more drastic measures to correct.

Botox for Jaw Problems

Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJD or TMD), are notoriously difficult to diagnose and treat. Many of the related symptoms, such as headaches and earaches, often lead doctors to diagnose a sinus condition, as opposed to a problem with the jaw joint. TMJ symptoms often change in severity, depending on how much stress the sufferer is experiencing. During an intensely stressful period, grinding teeth, debilitating earaches and lockjaw may occur. Botox® injections are sometimes an effective and painless way to alleviate tension in the temporomandibular joint; reducing jaw pain, headaches and suffering.

Botox® Botox® is commonly associated with cosmetic practices, for example, for eliminating facial wrinkles. Recently however, Botox® has become an increasingly popular TMJ treatment. Although some TMJ symptoms may improve without any specific treatment, Botox® offers fast and long-lasting relief for those that do not.

Here are several of the major benefits Botox® offers TMJ sufferers:

  • Elimination of headaches caused by night-time grinding.
  • Minimization of lockjaw.
  • Reduced discomfort when using the jaw.
  • Reduced shoulder and neck pain.
  • Substantially reduced jaw tension.

How does Botox® work?

The temporomandibular joint is located on both sides of the head where the skull adjoins the jawbone. This joint is constantly being used for a variety of daily activities such as chewing, biting, speaking and swallowing. The most prominent causes of TMJ are jaw displacement and stress-related involuntary jaw movements. Botox® expediently alleviates temporomandibular tension by relaxing the jaw muscles. This means that in most cases, the unconscious jaw movements cease completely, and the grinding-related headaches are kept at bay.

One of the major advantages of Botox® is that normal functions such as speaking, swallowing and biting are left unaffected. The only major change is the reduction in pain and discomfort. In addition, controlling TMJ can also prevent serious dental problems from occurring later. TMJ, if left untreated, can contribute to tooth decay, gum disease and the loosening of teeth.

What’s involved when getting Botox® injections?

Prior to administering Botox® injections, the dentist needs to check the patient’s suitability for treatment. When used in conjunction with certain medications and substances, Botox® may not produce the desired results. It is exceptionally important therefore, to be honest about prior medical history. Botox® is not recommended for pregnant or lactating women.

The Botox® injections take 10-20 minutes to administer, depending on the amount required. The Botox® procedure will be performed at the dental practice, since it is non-surgical. Driving ability will not be impaired by the treatment, so there is no need for a designated driver. The injections are no more painful than a bug bite or pinprick.

Normal activity can be resumed immediately after the Botox® treatment, but strenuous activity should be avoided for 24 hours after treatment. It may take several days to feel the full benefits of the treatment, but Botox® will continue to work for up to 3 months.

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Michigan Splint

The Michigan Splint is a type of dental splint commonly used in dentistry to address issues related to occlusion and to ensure that there is even contact between teeth when they come together. It was developed by Dr. Francis J. Vedder in the mid-20th century at the University of Michigan, hence the name.

This dental device is typically made of hard acrylic material to protect the teeth from tooth wear. It is custom-fitted to a patient’s upper or lower teeth. Its primary purpose is to provide a stable and balanced occlusion, reducing excessive forces on the teeth and temporomandibular joint (TMJ).

Bruxism – The Michigan Splint is particularly beneficial in cases of bruxism, which is the habitual grinding or clenching of teeth, often occurring during sleep. By creating a barrier between the upper and lower teeth, the splint helps prevent damage to tooth enamel, minimise jaw muscle strain, and alleviate symptoms associated with temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD).

Diagnostic tool – The Michigan Splint is also employed as a diagnostic tool. We can use it to evaluate the effects of different occlusal positions and make adjustments to improve our patient’s bite. Additionally, it can be utilised in the treatment of conditions like headaches and facial pain that may be linked to dysfunctional occlusion.

Top tips for use of The Michigan Splint

  • Wear the splint at night as most people grind their teeth at night
  • Make sure the splint and your teeth are very clean before Inserting it
  • Only drink water once the splint is in place
  • Make sure the splint clicks securely over the teeth
  • Brush your splint with soap and cold water, don’t use toothpaste or warm water
  • Place the splint in a mild sterilising solution once a week


While the Michigan Splint can be highly beneficial in managing certain dental and temporomandibular joint issues, its usage is case-specific. A thorough examination and diagnosis are essential to determine whether a Michigan Splint is the appropriate treatment option for you.

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