Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD) or more commonly called “TMJ”
Have your headaches become tiresome? Perhaps you’re depressed or feel guilty because you’ve lost time with your family and can’t function well at work.
Chronic headache problems are not necessarily a condition that’s all in your head. The source of this pain can often be traced back to Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD), or more commonly “TMJ”, which is a condition that affects one or both of the temporomandibular joints (TMJ’s).
These joints work together to facilitate jaw movements needed for chewing and speaking. TMD can affect the TMJ, jaw muscles, and facial nerves when a person opens or closes the mouth.
Typical TMD symptoms may include the following:
• Neck pain
• Ear pain
• Jaw tenderness
• Jaw pain when chewing, biting, or yawning
• Difficulty opening or closing the mouth
• Sensitive teeth
More than 15% of adults nationwide suffer from chronic facial pain, and is usually a direct sign of TMD. It can occur as a result of arthritis, a dislocated or broken jaw, or having an improper bite. Overuse of jaw muscles, clenching teeth, or grinding teeth can cause symptoms to increase in severity. This means bad headaches and other forms of crippling facial pain.
Past automobile accidents or a fall can throw off the head and neck muscles and tendons, resulting in an imbalance in the head and neck. This imbalance then throws off the TMD and your bite relationship, resulting in headaches.
Dealing with TMD-caused pain
If you suffer from chronic headaches, have you had your face and jaw examined for a proper diagnosis? If not, you might see your dentist, physician, a neurologist, a chiropractor or a physical therapist and find that things get better, for a short time. Not to be discouraging, but you can end up “fighting an uphill battle” if your bite is a factor in the cause of your headaches, something that might need to be addressed at some point in time.
There are non-surgical treatments for TMD-based headaches and facial pain. These treatments include:
• Taking anti-inflammatory pain relievers (ibuprofen, naproxen, etc.)
• Applying heat packs to affected areas for ten minute increments
• Using relaxation techniques to reduce stress
• Wearing an oral appliance to prevent teeth grinding in your sleep
• Muscle therapy, stretching exercises and homecare
Most TMD symptoms will subside and eventually go away with proper treatment. We can prescribe a proper care routine for reducing TMD symptoms that will eliminate discomfort felt during normal activities like eating or talking. If TMD symptoms are too severe, we may recommend further treatment to correct teeth alignment, or to realign the jaw.
The bottom line is that living with headaches is not necessary. A simple dental exam at our office can start you on the path to permanent pain relief. Contact us to schedule an appointment today!