TMJ and Headaches

tmj and headachesServing Brentwood, Belle Meade and Green Hills Areas of Nashville TN

If you suffer from severe headaches that occur on a regular or frequent basis, you likely have been seeking relief for this malady. Perhaps another medical professional has diagnosed your headaches as migraines, or headaches of migraine-like intensity. Your doctor may have provided multiple descriptions of what is causing your pain, and even prescribed you multiple medicines to manage these headaches and their intensity. However, have you found that these medications only reduce the intensity of the symptoms of the headaches and do nothing to diminish their frequency? If so, your headaches could be the result of a case of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), and a neuromuscular dentist evaluate your condition as soon as possible.

The link between TMJ and headaches is a complicated topic—as evidenced by the fact these headaches often are misdiagnosed as migraines. (Click here to learn more about the difference between TMJ headaches and migraine headaches).

The following information on this page has been found to be beneficial in explaining how TMJ causes headaches. That said, many patients have a better grasp of this topic after meeting face-to-face with a neuromuscular dentist, who has a unique skill set to diagnose and treat TMJ and the symptoms it causes. If you would like one of these consultations, call the office of Devine Dentistry today to schedule your appointment.

TMJ and headaches

TMJ refers to any disorder that causes the temporomandibular joint, which connects your jaw to your skull, to go into dysfunction. This disorder can be caused by a variety of reasons. (Click here to learn more about the causes of TMD). Over time, a TMJ patient will experience issues with their jaw joints, as well as the surrounding musculature, nerves, and blood vessels. When a case of TMJ reaches this stage, it often causes aggravation of the trigeminal nerve, which is located close to the joint itself. This nerve is a crucial part of your nervous system because it transmits more sensory input to the brain than any other neural pathway in your body—including the spinal cord!

The trigeminal nerve also fulfills the following functions:

  • Sending commands that control facial expressions
  • Transmitting signals of pain
  • Managing several involuntary functions that oversee the safety and comfort of the brain, including blood supply and air pressure via the Eustachian tubes

While medical science does not know exactly what causes migraines, we do know—thanks to MRIs and other imaging tools used in diagnostic testing—that the trigeminal nerve often is stimulated or aggravated in patients who suffer from headaches on a regular basis. This is especially true when these headaches cause severe pain. In the case of TMJ headaches, the vascular consequences of the disorder often compress the nerve, which causes the onset of painful tension headaches. The pain from these headaches can be debilitating in nature, meaning they impede your ability to function.

Treating TMJ headaches

The only way to treat headaches caused by TMJ is to treat the disorder at the root of the problem. Managing the headaches themselves or just waiting for the problem to go away will not work.

If you have these headaches or think you may be suffering from headaches caused by TMJ, then a neuromuscular dentist can help. Any neuromuscular dentist has extensive post-graduate education focusing on diagnosing and treating TMJ by achieving the ideal alignment of the bite and jaw.

Click here to learn more about why it is important to seek the care of a neuromuscular dentist.

In many cases, this result is achieved through oral appliance therapy—prescribing an orthotic mouthpiece that is custom-made for maximum fit and comfort. This mouthpiece gently guides the jaw joints back into their preferred alignment. Once your jaw joints and the surrounding muscles are aligned properly again, the trigeminal nerve is no longer irritated. This allows the nerve to function at a higher level, while also eliminating the source of the signals of pain that the nerve was sending out to your brain, thus triggering the headaches. A neuromuscular dentist also can prescribe pain relief medication to manage the symptoms of the headaches while the TMJ treatment itself takes effect.

Any individual who suffers from chronic, painful headaches knows what a detrimental effect these headaches have on your daily quality of life. If you have been suffering from these headaches and traditional remedies have not solved the problem, you owe it to yourself to see if TMJ might be the cause of your headaches.

Call the office of Devine Dentistry at (615) 269-4209 to schedule a consultation. This may bring you the lasting relief you have been in search of for years. Dr. Devine has studied at the Las Vegas Institute, considered the finest institution for post-graduate study in neuromuscular dentistry.

Devine Dentistry provides comprehensive oral health care for patients in the areas of Belle Meade, Green Hills, and Nashville, Tennessee.