Many tend to associate headaches with lack of water, the weather, stress, diet, or inadequate sleep. However, there are cases where your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) might be the cause.
TMJ is the joint that connects the jaw to the skull. It acts as a sliding hinge, with one joint on each side of the jaw. Due to this sliding motion, TMJ can be a little more complicated than other joints within your body.
TMJ disorders, also referred to as temporomandibular disorders (TMD), can cause pain in the jaw. Plus, they also create discomfort in the surrounding muscle that helps with jaw movement. When this happens, several symptoms can arise, which include headaches.
What Causes TMJ Headaches?
The root of a TMJ headache can be difficult to determine. At times, it’s a combination of factors like a jaw injury, arthritis, or genes. One common cause is misaligned teeth. Another is teeth grinding. This often happens at night during sleep. Grinding your teeth can also create an added layer of issues like loose teeth and jawbone erosion.
Are Your Headaches Tied to TMJ?
People don’t often tie TMJ to a headache. Therefore, if you suffer from reoccurring headaches, it’s important to take a closer look at other signs linked to the condition.
First off, think about what kind of headaches you get. Three types that are strongly connected to TMD, include:
- Referred pain
6 Common Symptoms of TMJ Headaches
It can be challenging to pinpoint if your headache is simply a “headache” or something more. It’s one thing if you are just getting headaches. Yet, if your headaches are accompanied by other symptoms, then you may be suffering from TMD.
Below are 6 common symptoms of a TMJ headache.
1. Go-To Headache Remedies Are Short-Term Solutions
Over-the-counter medications may relieve your headache in the short term. However, suffering from TMJ headaches means the meds won’t stop them from reoccurring. This also includes any home remedies like a cold compress, drinking more water, or essential oils.
2. Excessive Jaw Activity
For those with TMD, excessive jaw activity can trigger headaches.
Some of these include:
- Consuming hard-to-chew foods
- Talking all day long
- Chewing gum
- Clenching your jaw
- Grinding your teeth
3. Neck, Jaw, and Facial Pain
TMJ headaches often occur alongside pain in other regions of the face and head. At times, they resemble tension headaches, as these develop due to pressure within your skull’s muscles. Jaw muscles connect to your temple as well as the muscles in the neck and head. Therefore, jaw muscles that are stressed out create a domino effect around pain.
TMJ sufferers also deal with “referred pain”. This is when your brain interprets that the discomfort is a headache, but it isn’t. At times, when discomfort is coming from tooth, face, or jaw pain, your brain signal can misread it as headache.
4. Restricted Jaw Movement
The average measurement when opening your mouth is about 35mm, or larger. Therefore, the inability to open your mouth as wide as possible is an indicator of jaw movement issues. In addition, restricted jaw movement impacts your ability to speak, eat, yawn, or even laugh.
Curious if this is an issue? A quick test you can do is place your first three fingers (side-by-side) between your lower and upper teeth. If you can’t do this with ease, think about reaching out to a St. Augustine dentist. Booking an appointment is a must to get this checked out.
5. Changes In Your “Bite”
Another sign of TMD is changes around how your top and bottom teeth “fit” together. Teeth grinding can alter your “bite”, which also affects TMJ headaches.
6. Other TMD Signs and Symptoms
Lastly, additional TMD symptoms to consider, include:
- Ringing in your ears
- Popping or “clicking” sounds in your jaw joints
- Unexplained tooth pain, movement, or loose teeth
- Congestion and stuffiness
- Excessive cracking or wear on your teeth or restorations
If you noticed any of the above symptoms along with ongoing headaches, it might be time to visit your dentist.
TMJ Diagnosis and Treatment Options in St. Augustine
Think you may be suffering from TMJ? Come visit Palencia Dental! Dr. Stephanie Kinsey is a TMJ dentist in St. Augustine trained to diagnose this condition. She collaborates with patients to come up with effective treatment plans. The good news is, there are a variety of options to relieve the signs and symptoms of TMD.
A mouthguard can help with teeth grinding. Perhaps, a realignment procedure is in order. In addition, Palencia Dental provides relaxation exercises to help patients reduce the stress in their jaw, and can prescribe muscle relaxants. At the end of the day, no one TMD treatment plan will look the same. It depends on the patient, the cause of the condition, and other needs.
Call (904) 474-5444 our dental office in St. Augustine, FL today to book an appointment. We can diagnose and treat your TMD to help relieve your TMJ headaches and other symptoms.