Could Your Headaches Be Due To Your TMJ?

Could Your Headaches Be Due To Your TMJ?

Do You Experience Frequent Jaw Pain Or Headaches?

Are you or a loved one suffering from jaw pain or headaches? Tension in the neck and shoulders? All of these symptoms could be related to the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ. When there are chronic issues with the joint and surrounding tissues, it is called TMD or temporomandibular joint disorder.

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What is the temporomandibular joint (TMJ)?

The TMJ is located on either side of the head right in front of the ears. It is a ball and socket joint that acts as a hinge connecting the lower jaw to the skull. It is a complex joint, working with the surrounding ligaments and muscles to allow the jaw to make the necessary movements for eating and speaking.

What causes TMJ pain?

TMJ pain may involve some factors and not be from one cause. Here are some risk factors for developing TMJ pain:

Clenching and bruxism/grinding

Those who clench and grind their teeth will often complain of jaw pain. This is from the overworking of the joint and jaw muscles, which can get worse as the teeth get worn down. The majority of the damage is usually done during sleep when the forces put on the teeth are much more substantial.

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Bad habits

Biting on pens, fingernails or anything else that is not food can contribute to jaw pain. Gum should be limited as well since it can overwork the jaw joint and chewing muscles.

Missing teeth/malocclusion

Having missing teeth can make the bite unbalanced and lead to issues with TMJ.

Stress

Many people find that during times of stress they are more likely to clench and grind their teeth.

Sleep apnea

There is some evidence that bruxism (grinding of teeth) can be related to sleep apnea. Other symptoms of sleep apnea include snoring, pauses in breathing with choking or gasping sounds and daytime tiredness.

Arthritis

This can affect any joint in the body, including the TMJ.

Other symptoms that can indicate TMJ issues

  • Earaches
  • Clicking or popping of the jaw
  • Difficulty with opening or closing the mouth

How is TMJ pain treated?

The first step is having a proper assessment and diagnosis. Your dental professional will be able to suggest an individualized treatment plan to relieve your symptoms of TMD. Some possible treatments include filling in spaces if there are missing teeth, correcting an improper bite and having a night guard made to prevent further wear of your teeth.

Home care to help with TMJ pain

  • Reduce stress and practice relaxation techniques.
  • Warm or cold compresses to the area. Warm compresses will help relax the muscles, and cold compresses will reduce inflammation.
  • Gently massage the area to improve circulation and relax the muscles.
    Avoid very chewy foods and gum.
  • Make sure you are careful when opening wide, even when yawning.
  • Anti-inflammatory medication can reduce pain and inflammation. A topical anti-inflammatory such as Voltaren (applied externally) may also help.

If you are experiencing jaw pain or any of the other symptoms of TMD, don’t sit home and suffer, call us today!

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