Your headache or migraine could have a dental cause
Many people who suffer from chronic headaches do not know that Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ or TMD) could be the cause.
The temporomandibular joint is the jaw joint, just in front of the ears. It’s where the lower jaw connects to the skull. When your jaw joint is out of alignment, the upper and lower teeth meet incorrectly in what’s known as a “bad bite”, and the jaw muscles strain at everything they do.
TMJ can really get on your nerves
TMJ headaches can be caused by inflammation built up by an untreated jaw problem, or bad bite. There are several large nerves running through the face, head, neck and shoulders, down to the hands. Inflammation can put pressure on these nerves, which gives you pain in the area the nerve leads to, in this case, the head.
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Another reason could be a rise in blood pressure. When the jaw muscles are chronically strained, the inflammation blocks some of the blood flow. The body tries to correct the problem by sending more blood to the area, which increases blood pressure. This can cause a very painful feeling of pressure around the head, called a vascular headache.
A TMJ diagnosis could help you find relief
Because they can be so painful, severe, and frequent, TMJ headaches are sometimes misdiagnosed as migraines. To determine if you are suffering from migraines or TMJ headaches, try visiting a dentist.
What you’ll be looking for is a diagnosis and treatment options that focus not just on your teeth and gums, but also on your jaw joint, and all its related structures (nerves, muscles, blood vessels etc.)
A TMJ diagnosis starts with measuring and recording the jaw joint sounds, jaw muscle electrical activity, and jaw movements. Part of the diagnosis is relaxing the jaw muscles with a set of electrodes that deliver mild stimulation, contracting and relaxing the muscles until they relax. This usually takes about 45 to 60 minutes, and, for many patients, it’s the first time their jaw muscles have relaxed in many years. TMJ pain often fades along with the muscle tension.
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Plan your treatment options
Since each case of TMJ is one-of-a-kind, each treatment plan must be custom designed for the individual patient.
Once the jaw muscle relaxation is complete, and your optimal bite position has been found, a longer-term plan for the maintenance of your corrected bite is the next step.
If you would like to learn more about TMJ and how it can cause migraines and headaches, please come in for a consultation.