The Connection Between Dental Headaches and TMJ Disorders

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Biting Back Against Headaches: How TMJ Treatment Can Help

Frequent headaches or migraines can certainly ruin your day and impact your quality of life. While there are many potential causes, one that is often overlooked is issues with the jaw joints and bite alignment. Problems with the temporomandibular joints (TMJ) that connect the jaw to the skull can lead to referred pain in the head, face, and neck – causing what are known as dental headaches.

What is TMJ Disorder? 

The temporomandibular joints are the two joints that allow your jaw to open, close, and move from side to side. TMJ disorders refer to a variety of conditions that affect these jaw joints, including:

  • Muscle tension and spasms in the jaw muscles
  • Displaced or misaligned jaw joints
  • Arthritis in the jaw joints
  • Jaw clenching and teeth grinding (bruxism)

Symptoms of TMJ disorder include pain or tenderness in the jaw area, clicking or popping noises when opening the mouth, a locked jaw, and headaches or migraines. The headache pain is often felt in the temples or around the eyes and cheeks.

The TMJ-Headache Connection 

When the jaw joints are misaligned or the muscles are strained, it puts pressure on the surrounding muscles, nerves, and blood vessels. This can trigger referred pain that radiates outward, causing dental headaches.

Some of the most common headache types linked to TMJ problems include:

  • Tension headaches from muscle tightness and spasms
  • Migraines from impingement of nerves and blood vessels
  • Cluster headaches, which cause severe pain around one eye

In addition, many people with TMJ disorder also experience neck pain, ringing in the ears, dizziness, and other symptoms stemming from the jaw dysfunction.

Finding Relief

If you suffer from chronic headaches or migraines, it’s worth getting evaluated for a possible TMJ disorder. Dentists can examine your bite alignment and jaw joints to check for any misalignments or jaw-clenching habits.

Treatment for TMJ-related headaches often involves:

  • Bite splints or night guards to reposition the jaw
  • Physical therapy for the jaw muscles
  • Massage and stretching exercises
  • Avoiding hard or crunchy foods
  • Pain medication or muscle relaxants
  • Fixing misaligned teeth with orthodontics

By treating the underlying TMJ disorder, many patients experience a significant reduction in dental headaches, migraines, and other symptoms. Don’t suffer through the pain – seek an evaluation to get you on the path to relief.

Aligning Your Bite to Banish Chronic Headaches

If you’re suffering from frequent headaches or jaw pain, it’s time to get checked for TMJ disorder. The experienced team at NorthShore Center Oral and Facial Surgery & Implantology in Gurnee, IL can evaluate your bite and jaw joints to determine if TMJ is the root cause of your discomfort. Don’t let dental headaches derail your life – call (224) 513-6500 today to schedule an appointment and get on the path to relief.