At the first sign of a headache, you probably reach for your preferred over-the-counter pain reliever or try a home remedy. What if you have the headache that won t go away with medicine? If these headaches become chronic, you may struggle to determine why. The answer may be a positive diagnosis of TMJ disorder, also known as TMD. If you constantly wake up with a TMJ headache or develop one at various points throughout the day, then ask your dentist if TMD might be why, and how you can find lasting relief with personalized treatment.
Still, problems related to the temporomandibular joint can remain hidden for years. Why is this the case? TM disorder isn’t always easy to detect because its symptoms can vary from patient to patient. For instance, the jaw dysfunction may cause your jaw joints to pop and click, or it may lead to sore and aching jaw and facial muscles. Therefore, a patient with chronic headaches or severe migraines may have no idea that the reason for their pain comes from a malfunctioning jaw joint.
Why a Jaw Dysfunction can cause a TMJ headache
TMJs refer to the two temporomandibular joints that control your lower jaw’s movement. TMD can describe a variety of conditions that affect the alignment, health, and/or function of one or both of these joints. In addition to the joints and your jaw’s muscles, your jaw function also relies on your trigeminal nerve, which is located close to your TMJs. This nerve innervates the rest of your head, as well, and when TMJ disorder strikes, it can transfer the discomfort everywhere.
Common Indicators of Possible TMD
As you might guess, every individual diagnosed with TM disorder has different symptoms. This makes it especially challenging to immediately detect the condition. However, most patients of Dr. Fondriest with TMD tend to present at least a handful of the following TMJ symptoms:
- TMJ headache that will not go away with medication or time. Many times, these headaches are called tension headaches.
- A jaw that “sticks” or will not easily open or close while eating, yawning, or speaking.
- A jaw that clicks when opening or shutting.
- A feeling that the fit between the teeth is not ideal. This can lead to bruxism, or tooth grinding, behavior.
- Pain radiating from the jaw joint. The pain may travel to the head, teeth, neck, or shoulders.
- A feeling of tenderness or soreness in and around the jaw joint.
- The inability to properly chew food or completely bite down on foods.
- Pain in or around the ears.
- Many patients think that they have a brain tumor.
- Ringing in the ears, which is called tinnitus.
- Tooth sensitivity to heat or cold.
- Sensation of dizziness accompanied by ear or jaw discomfort.
Please note that some of these symptoms can indicate the potential presence of other disorders, too. Therefore, patients are advised to make appointments with their dentists and general physicians if necessary.
How to find relief from that headache that won’t go away with medicine
The only way to relieve a frequent TMJ headache and the other symptoms of TMJ disorder is to treat the disorder itself. This requires doing a thorough dental examination and consultation to confirm exactly what is wrong. Once your dentist pinpoints the exact cause of your disorder, such as a misaligned bite, he/she can suggest an appropriate treatment plan to restore your bite’s harmony and relieve your chronic symptoms.
Some of the more common ways that dentists treat TMJ disorder include:
- Oral appliances: These appliances look a lot like the mouthguards used by professional and recreational athletes. They are far more more complex in design. Each appliance is constructed to keep the patient’s mouth in a neutral position during sleep. This relieves the pressure on the jaw joint, which removes the stress on the muscles and tendons. Many headache sufferers experience significantly fewer morning headaches with an oral appliance. It is the muscle headaches that more likely cause the headaches that won’t go away.
- Occlusal adjustment: In some cases, simply removing the enamel from the tops of the molars can relieve TM disorder pressure for patients. An occlusal adjustment restores the bite to a more proper fit. It can also take away bruxism tendencies, especially when paired with an oral appliance worn during sleep.
- Dental restorations: Do you have a number of missing teeth? Restoring your smile with dental implants or other restorative solutions could help lessen or remove the discomfort caused by TM disorder.
- Surgery: Occasionally, patients with TMD need more invasive treatment. Surgery of the jaw joint may be appropriate in these cases. However, surgery is usually one of the final treatment recommendations.
- Lifestyle habits: If you get frequent TMJ headaches or are diagnosed with TMJ disorder, Dr. Fondriest can share lifestyle changes that may help you reduce the symptoms of the condition. Talk to him at your next appointment in north Chicago to determine what at-home behavior modifications could help.
Advantages of TMD Diagnosis and Treatment
What are the benefits of receiving a diagnosis of TMD and getting immediate treatment from your dentist? Check out some of the biggest advantages:
● You will be less likely to have a long lasting tension type headache or TMJ headache.
● Your jaw will not stick or click as often.
● You may not have pain in other parts of your body.
● Your bite will feel less “forced” or uncomfortable.
● You will finally have an answer to the question of why you get migraines or headaches.
● You will stop grinding or clenching or your teeth.
● You will experience less tooth pain and sensitivity around the jaw joint.
● Your overall quality of health and life will be improved.
Learn more about Relieving Your TMJ headache that won t go away, even with medicine
Among its many common symptoms, TMD can often result in chronic headaches and migraines. However, you should not have to live life with daily headaches that can get in the way of work or relaxation. To learn how you can relieve your pain, schedule a consultation with Dr. Fondriest by calling (847) 234-0517. Our practice mostly serves the Chicago metropolitan area including the North Shore and Northwest suburbs, but we often get patients from all over the United States.