While it rarely gets the attention it deserves, your TMJ is a joint that is critical to your everyday function and comfort. The TMJ (temporomandibular joint) is the joint that connects your skull to your jaw. Each time you speak, yawn, swallow or chew, your TMJ springs into action. Unfortunately, your TMJ can get irritated or malfunction just like other joints in your body. When this occurs, it can produce a wide range of disruptive symptoms throughout your jaw, face and neck.
Headaches and TMJ Disorder
If your TMJ joint gets out of alignment, overworked or strained, it can cause inflammation in the joint and its surrounding muscles and nerves. This can occur if you have a teeth grinding (or clenching) habit or a bite misalignment (crooked teeth). Unfortunately, you don’t always feel the disruption of the TMJ until it causes symptoms like jaw stiffness, jaw popping/clicking or sore teeth. For many sufferers, however, TMJ disorders bring on pain and discomfort that doesn’t stay localized in the jaw. Frequent tension headaches can often be traced back to TMJ disorder.
According to Healthline, “the muscles of the TMJ run along your jaw and cheeks, and sometimes these muscles can cause pain — even headaches. When the muscles in your jaw tense up — like when you grind your teeth — the pain can spread to other TMJ muscles alongside your cheeks and on the sides and top of your head, causing a headache.” It is not uncommon for patients to also feel ear pain. In fact, the most common cause of ear pain in an adult is the TMJ, not an ear infection. This is because the temporomandibular joint is located very close to the ear canal and middle ear.
Treating TMJ-Related Headaches
To treat these types of tension headaches, we must relieve and relax the TMJ. Depending on the severity and duration of your symptoms as well as what has caused your TMJ to become overworked, this can involve one or more of the following:
- OTC anti-inflammatories
- Jaw exercises
- Wearing splint or mouthguard at night
- Orthodontics or dental work (to achieve more even bite)
At Avalon Dental Group, we are proud to offer effective, long-term treatment for headaches and other symptoms that are rooted in TMJ problems. We understand how disruptive TMJ disorders can be to your quality of life, and our dental team is dedicated to finding you a quick and successful solution. Contact our Sugar Land office today to learn more.