So you get these annoying headaches all the time and you can’t figure out why. Is it allergies, the weather, a cold, sinus issues? Who knows? Maybe it’s one or a combination of those things, maybe not. It turns out that your oral health or TMJ (temporomandibular joint) could be the cause or contributing to your headaches or migraines!
TMJ CAN CAUSE HEADACHES AND MIGRAINES
The temporomandibular joint is a hinge that connects your jaw to the temporal bones of your skull. These are in front of each ear and they let you move your jaw up and down or side to side, so you can chew, talk, and yawn.
TMJ or Temporomandibular Disorder is what can happen when there’s an injury to the jaw bone. This can happen when the mechanism of the jaw and muscles around it have been injured. Anything from whiplash, to a sports injury or even having your mouth open for too long can distress the joint and bring on TMJ headaches.
There are numerous symptoms that you may not realize are associated with TMJ that could be bringing on your headaches.
Other factors that can lead to TMJ are:
Grinding or Clenching Your Teeth. This puts additional pressure on your joint.
– The ‘medical’ term for grinding your teeth is Bruxism. This very often happens while you’re asleep and you don’t even know you’re doing it. You may only find out when someone tells you they hear the grinding sound or if you consistently wake up with a headache that goes away soon after rising. Continued grinding can cause flattened (or worn down) teeth, cracked dental crowns and even broken or chipped teeth.
Arthritis in the Joint
Stress, which may cause tightening of the jaw and facial muscles or clenching
– Stress is a big cause of teeth grinding or clenching. This can cause muscle and gum inflammation which can lead to headaches and migraines. Is your jaw sore and does it click when you open your mouth?Do you have a pretty constant dull headache that starts around your temples or behind your eyes? Do you have tender teeth, difficulty opening or closing your mouth or even have indentations of your teeth on your tongue? These could be symptoms of TMJ or Bruxism and a factor in your headaches or migraines.
Your ‘BITE’ is Off – Missing, loose or misaligned teeth, orthodontics and even incoming wisdom teeth can cause your bite to be ‘off’ or your teeth not meeting smoothly when your jaw is closed. This constant strain makes your jaw have to work harder to compensate for the imbalance of trying to bring your bite into the right position, to swallow or even keep your mouth closed.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
1. Do you have any teeth or crowns that have fractured, chipped, or cracked?
2. Do your teeth show wear or have they become shorter than they used to be?
3. Are your gums receding around any teeth?
4. Are any of your teeth loose?
5. Do your jaws get tired of chewing or sore?
6. Can you chew gum?
7. Do you suffer from sore/tight shoulders?
8. Are you having frequent ear pain?
9.Does your jaw pop when you open or chew?
10. Is your tongue frequently pushed against the roof of your mouth?
If you answered yes to more than two questions, chances are pretty good that you have an alignment issue that’s contributing to your TMJ.
ANOTHER SOURCE OF PAIN THAT CONTRIBUTE TO HEADACHES
TOOTH INFECTION OR ABSCESS/CAVITIES OR GUM DISEASE – Very often, the pain from tooth decay or gum disease can feel like it’s a headache or migraine but it’s actually ‘referred pain’ from your mouth. The pain feels like a headache but it’s actually coming from your tooth or gums.
Diagnosing your TMJ and getting the appropriate treatment for it can help not only your jaw pain and issues but also alleviate those painful TMJ headaches.
TREATING HEADACHES/MIGRAINES CAUSED BY DENTAL ISSUES
Get regular dental cleanings and checkups and be sure to let your dentist know about your headaches and migraines and any other symptoms you may have. There could be a simple dental procedure to correct your problem; even something as straightforward as a bite guard to alleviate your grinding or clenching.
A dental checkup can even help detect a more serious oral health concern that needs treatment immediately, like an infected or abscessed tooth or gum disease.
People very frequently ignore the signs or symptoms of their TMJ headaches or confuse them with a regular headache or migraine. They avoid the dentist out of fear or the expense. They may wait until the issue is so severe and painful that they have no choice but to go for help. By that time damage may be permanent or much more burdensome to treat.
Visiting your dentist for regular cleanings and maintenance is not only a smart way to prevent more serious health issues; it may reveal a current problem that needs to be treated. This can avoid additional pain and suffering, more advanced health issues and spending more money than would have initially been necessary.
See your dentist and let him/her know about any issues you’re having. You’ll put yourself on the road to relief and a healthier, happier life!
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