Did you know that almost half of all headaches are really TMJ headaches? If you have chronic headaches, this can have a negative impact on your overall quality of life. Instead of living with the discomfort or trying to get through it with over-the-counter pain relievers, why not seek out the root cause? Often, persistent head pain is linked to a jaw joint problem known as TMJ disorder (TMD).
Oftentimes, TMJ dysfunction is accompanied by bruxism, the condition of clenching and grinding your teeth. Bruxism causes tooth wear and damage, which can also lead to TMJ dysfunction – so it works both ways.
Head Pain and TMD
If you’re pestered by nagging headaches, jaw pain, chronic earaches, or back and neck pain, you may suffer from temporomandibular joint dysfunction. The TMJs are joints that hold your jaw to your skull, and they’re located just in front of your ears. Many nerves and muscles are associated with the jaw joints, and they must work in complete harmony for comfortable function. When stress, genetics, injury, or other factors contribute to misalignment of the TMJ, jaw muscles and nerves become irritated. This causes pain that can range from moderate to debilitating.
TMJ disorder occurs when the jaw joints undergo excessive strain, eventually leading to problems fully opening and closing the mouth. Patients with the disorder report a number of uncomfortable symptoms, such as headaches, but also a popping or clicking sensation in the jaw, facial pain, and aches in the jaw, neck, and shoulders.
Causes of TMJ Headaches and Possible Treatment Options
Causes can range from tooth loss and misalignment to injury to the face or jaw. Stress is often a factor as well. When we assess the cause and severity of the problem, we can recommend the appropriate treatment option. For example, orthodontics or restorations can often be used to correct the bite’s balance and ease strain on the jaw joints. However, the most common treatment option is an oral appliance. Similar to a nightguard, the custom-made device is worn at night and repositions the jaw to reduce strain on the joints and stop uncomfortable TMJ-related symptoms.
Link to Bruxism
If you grind your teeth or clench them on a regular basis, you could be suffering from bruxism. Teeth grinding has been known to lead to TMJ disorder, and likewise, TMJ disorder can make teeth grinding more likely. Bruxism is a danger to your oral health not just due to its link to TMJ headaches, but also because teeth grinding can eventually damage your teeth and increase the risk of serious complications. Fortunately, an oral appliance can help prevent further damage and reduce the risk of grinding episodes.
Do You Have TMD?
Fortunately, the same oral appliance Dr. Fondriest administers to address TMJ dysfunction also manages bruxism. The custom-fitted oral appliance holds the jaw in proper alignment, relieving stress on the TMJs and preventing top and bottom teeth from touching. Over time, wearing the oral appliance at night (or during the day) may reprogram jaw muscles to maintain the correct position. However, some patients must wear their oral appliance, as needed, forever.
Learn more about TMJ Headaches
You do not have to live with TMJ pain. Dr. James Fondriest can restore your jaw’s alignment, relieve nagging TMJ symptoms, and possibly end destructive bruxism – so you can live a higher quality life!
Our team can help TMJ sufferers with an oral appliance. To learn more, schedule a consultation by calling us at 847-234-0517. We also proudly serve residents of Chicago and all surrounding communities in the Chicago Metro area.