If You Experience Persistent Headaches, Your Dentist Can Help
Have you noticed yourself dealing with persistent headaches with no apparent cause? If so, you could be dealing with TMJ headaches related to the joint that opens and closes your jaw. A dentist who specializes in this area can help diagnose TMJ disorder, identify underlying causes, and provide effective treatment.
Signs that Your Headache Could Be Related to TMJ Disorder
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ disorder) affects the joint that allows your jaw to open and close. Your lower jaw attaches to the skull at two points—one on each side of your face in front of either ear. When TMJ disorder arises, it can cause a wide range of symptoms.
Persistent headaches are one of the most common TMJ symptoms. You might experience what feels like migraine headaches or have pain spread throughout your face or behind your eyes.
TMJ headaches aren’t always easy to identify. You can look for other TMJ symptoms to help determine whether your headaches are related to TMJ, such as:
- Jaw pain
- Clicking or popping sounds from the jaw
- Jaw locks open or closed
- Neck or back pain
- Pain when chewing
The placement of the TMJ on either side of the face can often cause symptoms to feel like they’re associated with the ear rather than the jaw. If you feel like you have an earache or ear infection, you might actually be dealing with TMJ disorder.
How TMJ Disorder Causes Headaches and Other Symptoms
The TMJ is a complex joint that must stand up to the everyday forces and stress of chewing and talking. This can lead to issues even under normal circumstances, and many factors can impact the temporomandibular joint.
The joint is similar to a ball and socket joint, such as the hip or shoulder, except it can also glide forward and back. Between the skull and the jawbone is a delicate, articular disc that prevents the two bones from grinding together during movement.
The joint itself can become damaged by injury or factors such as arthritis, leading to TMJ headaches and other symptoms. The TMJ is the most used joint in the body, with heavy use during eating and speaking.
However, there is also a complex network of muscles surrounding the joint that control the many different types of jaw movement. This includes the masseter muscle, which pulls the jaw closed and is the strongest muscle by weight.
These muscles can become fatigued and stressed. The muscles are spread all over the front and sides of the face, which is why TMJ pain can appear over such a wide area. Those muscles can undergo serious stress if you deal with bruxism (grinding your teeth).
Many nerves are also responsible for delivering instructions to those muscles and providing the sensations felt in the jaw and face. Nerve issues can contribute to TMJ disorder and result in a wide range of symptoms, including different types of headaches.
Neuromuscular Dentistry and Other Treatments
While TMJ can be very serious, there are many options available to treat it. Dentists provide a range of TMJ treatments that focus on the underlying causes of TMJ disorder to provide lasting relief.
When choosing a dentist to consult about your TMJ symptoms, you should look for one who specializes in neuromuscular dentistry. This specialization means that the dentist is better suited to handle the full range of factors involved in TMJ disorders, no matter how complex.
At Dallas Cosmetic Dental, Dr. Alhadef provides specialized neuromuscular dentistry for patients with TMJ disorder. He carries out a comprehensive assessment to identify underlying causes and provides a variety of treatment options to suit any case.
Orthodontic treatment is often used to adjust jaw alignment. If your symptoms are related to bruxism, a custom nightguard can prevent grinding during sleep and hold your jaw in the proper position to avoid strain.
Dr. Alhadef also takes a neuromuscular dentistry approach to establish a stable physiologic neutral zone. Ensuring a healthy balance between muscles, nerves, bone, and soft tissue around the joint can provide lasting relief. Options like transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) therapy are also available.
Many cases of TMJ disorder are related to sleep apnea, where you jolt awake suddenly at night due to a lack of airflow. A custom PX3 mouth guard can address this issue and help with symptoms such as snoring.
Taking Action on Your TMJ Symptoms
Dr. Alhadef is your neuromuscular dentist in Highland Park, TX, providing a full range of treatment options. You can find relief and address the root cause of your TMJ symptoms by scheduling a consultation at Dallas Cosmetic Dental today.