TMJ and Headaches

tmj and headaches glen parkSan Francisco, Marin, and Oakland, CA

Living with severe pain can affect your ability to function. For many individuals, this pain takes the form of chronic headaches that produce significant pain and occur on a regular or frequent basis.

Migraine sufferers are well acquainted with the pain these headaches can cause. However, many individuals who think they have migraines actually are misdiagnosed. In reality, their headaches are caused by temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). This disorder occurs when the temporomandibular joint, which connects the jaw to the skull, enters a state of dysfunction or becomes misaligned.

Maybe you have been diagnosed with migraines but have had difficulty finding relief. Perhaps standard remedies for migraines only alleviate the intensity of the headache symptoms but do nothing to diminish the frequency with which these headaches occur. Does this sound like something you have been experiencing? If so, then TMJ could be causing your headaches.

The link between TMJ and headaches is a complicated topic. While we will explain this in greater detail below, we find that many patients benefit from a face-to-face meeting with a neuromuscular dentist who has special training and education to diagnose and treat temporomandibular joint disorder and the other issues caused by the disorder. If you have been suffering from painful headaches for quite some time without finding relief, schedule a consultation with one of the neuromuscular dentists on staff at Glen Park Dental by calling (415) 585-1500.

TMJ, headaches, and the trigeminal nerve

When your temporomandibular joint enters a state of dysfunction, then the disorder quickly begins to impact the jaw joints, in addition to the surrounding muscles, blood vessels, and nerves. One of the nerves close to the temporomandibular joint is the trigeminal nerve. This nerve transmits more sensory input to the brain than any other neutral pathway—even your spinal cord.

In addition to transmitting sensory input, the trigeminal nerve serves several other key functions. It sends commands that control facial expressions. It oversees involuntary functions related to the safety and comfort of the brain, such as blood supply and air pressure. The trigeminal nerve also transmits signals of pain, and this is why the nerve is usually involved in any issue related to a tension headache.

When TMJ begins to spread past your jaw, it often has a compressing effect on the trigeminal nerve. Once compressed, the nerve sends impulses of pain to the outer covering of the brain, causing the headaches. Migraine headaches also are caused, in part, by stimulation of the trigeminal nerve.

The commonality between migraines and headaches caused by TMJ is that both are different varieties of tension headaches that produce debilitating pain.

How are TMJ headaches treated?

If you have headaches caused by TMJ, then the only way to find lasting relief is to treat the TMJ itself. This is the only way to stop the headaches from occurring, rather than treat the symptoms of the headaches as they happen.

In order to receive proper treatment for TMJ, then you need to seek out the care of a neuromuscular dentist. This is the best-qualified medical professional to both diagnose and treat a case of TMJ. Neuromuscular dentists have additional post-graduate training going far beyond what is taught in dental school and focus their specialty on finding or restoring the proper alignment of the bite and jaw, instead of simply masking the pain with medication.

Here is additional information about neuromuscular dentistry and its role in oral health and harmony with the body.

At Glen Park Dental, we have multiple neuromuscular dentists as part of our team of professionals. Each of our neuromuscular dentists has received training at the Las Vegas Institute, which is considered the pre-eminent facility in North America for post-graduate dental education.

Treating TMJ with an oral appliance

Glen Park Dental prefers to treat TMJ through oral appliance therapy. This entails the construction of an orthotic mouthpiece, which is customized for each TMJ patient from impressions that are taken of the mouth. This guarantees a mouthpiece with a snug fit that performs at the highest level and can be worn with comfort for prolonged periods of time. These mouthpieces can be worn during sleep or throughout the day. Using them gently guides your jaw back into its ideal alignment, resolving the dysfunction in the temporomandibular joint and thus alleviating a case of TMJ and, with it, any headaches being caused by the disorder.

If you have been diagnosed with migraines but have yet to find lasting relief, or you have been experiencing severe headaches for quite some time without knowing why then TMJ could be causing your headaches. You do not have to live that way any longer. Find the lasting relief you deserve by calling Glen Park Dental at (415) 585-1500 to schedule a consultation.

Glen Park Dental is proud to provide comprehensive care for patients in the areas of Marin, Oakland, and San Francisco, California.