Headaches and migraines can be difficult to diagnose, regardless of the underlying cause. You can often attribute your head pain to a cold or singular event. But in others, the cause of your headache is difficult to determine. Especially when your doctor or dentist doesn’t have advanced training to recognize TMJ disorder. Headaches are common symptoms of this jaw disorder. While migraines are less common, pain in your jaw can trigger one.
Is Your Headache Caused by TMJ Disorder?
Your skull is a complex place. Not only does it house one of your most important organs, but it also contains a sliding hinge, twelve cranial nerve pairs, ligaments, blood vessels, muscles, and all the inner workings of your ears. With all this activity, it’s easy to see how something could go wrong. If you’re experiencing headaches without an obvious cause, call Dr. Clancy at (781) 396-8558 to see if you have TMJ disorder.
When your jaw joint is misaligned, it becomes inflamed. Your jaw muscles become fatigued, bone and cartilage degrade, nerves get pinched, blood vessels constrict, and ligaments pull at your ears. So, can TMJ cause headaches? Yes, it’s a combination of these things that cause pain in your head.
What does a TMJ Headache feel like?
One of the easiest ways to discern if your headache is caused by TMJ is if other, more obvious symptoms accompany it.
- Do you experience jaw pain and tightness in your face?
- Do you hear clicking or popping noises when you open your mouth wide?
- Have you experienced a locked jaw?
- Has there been a change in the way your bite feels?
- Do you hear other jaw sounds?
If you answered “yes” to some of these questions, it’s likely that your headache is related to TMJ too.
A TMJ headache can feel like any other headache or tension headache, which feels like a band tightening around your head.
If your headache comes on very suddenly, is extremely severe, and is accompanied by a stiff neck or fever, go to the emergency room immediately. This isn’t a TMJ headache or migraine; you need medical attention.
Is TMJ Disorder Triggering Your Migraines?
Migraines are unlike any other headache because they aren’t caused by your blood vessels constricting around your skull. They are actually classified as sensory processing disorders, which means there is an issue with how your brain processes sensory information. If you’ve had a migraine, this makes perfect sense. Your migraines can be triggered by many different things, mostly sensory-related, and the aura you experience before your pain starts alters your senses.
The biggest thing to note with TMJ and migraines is that your TMJ disorder triggers a migraine. The tightening of your muscles and sensory overload that travels through your trigeminal nerve is thought to be the mechanics behind TMJ-triggered migraines.
It can be challenging to tell if your migraine was triggered by TMJ or something else, but we always suggest our patients keep a migraines journal. Keep track of when you have the migraine and what you were doing in the days leading up to it that could have caused it. If you were under a period of immense stress or noticed some other TMJ symptoms, you can infer that TMJ could be the cause of your migraine.
While migraines are extremely painful, don’t confuse them with a sudden head pain attack. Migraines come on gradually. If you experience sudden, severe head pain, seek medical attention.
Seeking TMJ Treatment Can Help. Here’s How It Works
The effects of TMJ disorder can be so far-reaching that you find your daily life hard to live. Depression, anxiety, mood changes, and a general loss of interest aren’t uncommon symptoms of severe TMJ disorder. If you think your headaches are caused by TMJ disorder, seek TMJ treatment from Dr. Clancy.
Your first appointment will be an exam. Dr. Clancy will examine your jaw and perform some tests using technology that allows him to evaluate and track your jaw movement.
Next, he’ll analyze the data to determine your TMJ disorder’s root cause and make treatment recommendations. The first step in your treatment journey is usually to wear a custom TMJ orthotic. You’ll wear it 24/7 until your TMJ symptoms improve, and Dr. Clancy will make adjustments along the way.
Finally, you’ll have the opportunity to fix your jaw misalignment for good by undergoing dental treatments to get your jaw to say in the correct position. This could be restorations, orthodontics, full-face orthodontics, or a combination of the three. Dr. Clancy can put you on a treatment path that eliminates your TMJ pain so you can enjoy your life again. Imagine no more headaches and migraines!
End Your TMJ Pain at Divine Smiles
Are you ready to treat your TMJ disorder? Call (781) 396-8558 or make an appointment online. TMJ dentist Dr. Clancy and his compassionate dental team can help.