Waking Up With Headaches? It Could Be a Sign of TMJ

TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, which is the joint that connects your lower jaw to the bones on the sides of your face. The acronym TMJ is often used to refer to disorders of this joint or they may be called TMD for temporomandibular disorder. Either way, the temporomandibular joint’s proper function is critical to talking and chewing normally.

If you suffer from TMJ, your jaw joint doesn’t work quite right and causes you pain. The bones of the joint may grind together, causing inflammation and irritation. TMD can be caused by many different factors, from tooth grinding to stress. If left untreated, TMJ can lead to impaired chewing ability, facial pain, and headaches. 

With recurrent headaches, it can be hard to discover the underlying cause and effectively treat the pain. Headaches caused by TMJ disorders have many similarities with other headache types. In fact, research shows that many patients suffering from TMJ headaches are incorrectly diagnosed with tension headaches because the symptoms are so similar. 

Our team at MJM Family & Cosmetic Dentistry is trained to identify and treat TMJ disorders. We can help you find the root cause of your headaches, and get you on a treatment plan to help you find relief. 

Signs you have TMJ headaches

It’s easy to write off TMJ headaches as common headache pain without understanding the true cause. But the right diagnosis makes all the difference in getting proper treatment so you can feel better. Signs that your headaches might be caused by a TMJ disorder include recurring pain in the same region of your head or face and pain when moving your jaw or chewing food. You may also notice a popping or grinding sound when you move your jaw. 

TMJ headache pain can occur in your neck or lower head. And TMJ headaches typically lack the symptoms characteristic of migraines, such as light and sound sensitivity, nausea, and fatigue.

To help us evaluate the cause of your headaches, it can be helpful to track your symptoms. You might be suffering from TMJ-related headaches if you also experience:

The above symptoms, in combination with headaches, often indicate a TMJ disorder. Don’t accept life with recurring headaches; understand the cause and find treatment that works for you.

Treatment options for TMJ

While stress-induced tension headaches can be difficult to prevent, TMJ disorders are more treatable, making TMJ headaches preventable. Often, invasive procedures aren’t needed to treat TMJ. You might even begin to see relief a few days after starting treatment.

It’s important to understand the condition and why you have a TMJ disorder. One common cause is overuse. For example, TMJ and the resulting headache may be from chewing gum a lot or clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth. TMD can be stress-induced, and that can take many forms. 

Some common treatment methods that we prescribe for patients suffering from TMJ headaches include:

If your headaches are caused by a TMJ disorder, you can expect them to improve and then disappear 1-3 months after starting treatment. If you no longer experience headaches after three months of treatment, you’ve successfully treated your condition and resolved the source of your headache pain. 

It’s time to stop living with headaches caused by a TMJ disorder. If your headaches are associated with facial pain and tenderness, making chewing and talking difficult, they might be caused by TMJ. Call our office or click the button to make your first appointment online.

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