If you suffer from recurring headaches, they can significantly affect your daily life. While many factors can lead to migraines, they may be caused by something you wouldn’t expect to be related. Believe it or not, disorders of the temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are linked to chronic migraines. Treating your jaw pain can be the solution you need to reduce the occurrence of headaches.
What is a TMJ Disorder?
Your temporomandibular joints are located on either side of your face, connecting your jaw to your skull. When the joints function incorrectly, it can lead to a variety of symptoms that can diminish your oral functions and overall quality of life.
It’s not uncommon to experience clicking, popping, or grading sensations when opening and closing your mouth. In some instances, your jaw may even lock into an opened or closed position. It’s not unusual to experience facial pain, but disorders of the joints can also cause ringing in the ears, neck pain, and even headaches.
Many factors can contribute to TMJ disorders, like a previous injury to the jaw, a habit of grinding or clenching your teeth, or a poorly aligned bite. Your dentist can identify the cause to create a customized treatment plan to stop your symptoms and improve your jaw function.
Can TMD Cause Headaches?
About 1 in 20 adults with TMD experience recurring headaches. Since both migraines and TMD are common issues, it can be difficult to determine if they are connected to one another or if headaches are the result of another factor, like stress.
However, researchers have found that patients with migraines occurring more than 15 days per month are 3 times more likely to have severe symptoms of TMJ dysfunction. Although many factors contribute to TMJ disorders, stress, and muscle overload are leading causes, which can also trigger headaches.
Migraines are a neurological disease with multifactorial causes, unlike TMD that’s linked to musculoskeletal issues. While more research is needed to determine the connection between TMD and migraine attacks, improving TMJ functions can decrease the frequency of headaches and other symptoms.
Treating TMJ Dysfunction
After examining your oral structures and learning more about your symptoms, your dentist will create a personalized treatment plan, which may include:
- Occlusal Adjustments: A custom oral appliance trains the jaw to rest in a more comfortable position. It corrects an unbalanced bite to take pressure off the jaw muscles.
- Nightguard: Grinding and clenching your teeth can overload the jaw muscles. A nightguard absorbs the friction between the upper and lower arches.
- Occlusal Splint: The appliance is worn over the teeth to encourage the jaw to rest in a new position to take pressure off the jaw.
TMJ therapy can improve your quality of life by managing chronic jaw pain and reducing the occurrence of headaches. Contact your dentist to see if TMJ dysfunction can be the culprit behind you are migraines.
About Dr. Michael Neely
Dr. Neely earned his dental degree at Baylor College of Dentistry and has completed advanced training in craniomandibular orthopedics. He has the qualifications and experience you can trust to treat TMJ disorders. Request an appointment through our website or call (214) 550-3233.