Dental concerns can often cause symptoms outside of the mouth, especially bite disorders and temporomandibular disorders (TMD). When the jaw joints are stressed or not functioning properly, they can cause radiating pain and tension including frequent headaches.
Many people think these are tension headaches but then they seem to still persist even after treatment. Also, not many people think to talk to their dentist about frequent headaches. This leads to the headaches that are caused by TMJ dysfunction being misdiagnosed. Visiting a dentist that is experienced in dealing with TMJ related issues is vital to discovering the true cause of your headaches.
TMJ related headaches typically occur in the morning after a night of teeth grinding or jaw clenching- common signs and symptoms of a bite problem.
Dr. Baldwin looks for the signs of a bite problem during routine dental exams which can include worn or damaged teeth, but there are many symptoms that are not apparent upon examination and are often misdiagnosed:
- Recurring headaches
- Jaw pain or a crackling, popping or grinding sound when the jaw moves
- Ear pain or feeling of fullness in the ear
- Hearing changes, ringing in the ears, dizziness
- Neck and shoulder pain
There can be a wide range of underlying causes for TMJ or a bite problem and proper diagnosis is the key to effective TMJ treatment that also supports lasting dental health. Dr. Baldwin will evaluate your entire occlusal system to look for the cause of the imbalance in your bite that is leading to teeth grinding and other debilitating symptoms.
TMJ Headaches: Treatment Options
Dr. Baldwin seeks to provide treatment that will not only alleviate symptoms, but provide a comfortable bite that you can enjoy for the long term. He may recommend:
Mouthguard/ Splint: a custom-fit oral appliance may be all that is necessary to properly position your jaw, relieve pressure and/or stop teeth grinding for relief of symptoms.
Bite correction: if your bite is uneven or your teeth are not contacting properly and contributing to your TMJ disorder, Dr. Baldwin may recommend treatments, such as orthodontics, to realign or adjust the teeth. Treatments may include:
Outside of the dentist office, it is important to take necessary steps to help alleviate some of your symptoms in addition to Dr. Baldwin’s treatment. This includes taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs), such as aspirin or ibuprofen, to help keep the pain under control. You should also avoid chewing hard food and opening your mouth too wide repeatedly (when yawing or chewing gum for example). And most important, it is vital to work on reducing your stress. Make sure you do not cope with your stress by using alcohol or tobacco as these will only make your symptoms worse.
TMJ Headache FAQs
What does a TMJ headache feel like?
TMJ headaches are commonly reported as feeling tension between their jaw and ears. Some patients may feel pain in their neck or jaw.
How do I know if my headache is caused by my teeth?
The best way to know if a headache is caused by dental issues is to look for what nerve it may be coming from. The largest nerve in your head, the trigeminal nerve, controls your face, teeth, and gums. Irritation to this nerve can case severe and chronic headaches.
How long do TMJ headaches last?
TMJ headaches are usually chronic, lasting anywhere between one day to a couple weeks. At times pain may be sharp, but in general it will be a sore stiff pain.
Schedule A Dental Exam & Consultation
If you have been experiencing any of the symptoms above or have concerns about the fit and comfort of your bite, schedule an appointment with Dr. Baldwin in his Truckee, CA dentist office. Call our office at (530) 206-0392 or request an appointment online.