3 things to know if you suffer from frequent headaches
If you have headaches and have been to doctors, but you still aren’t getting real relief, maybe you should see a dentist. Headaches often start with a problem with your jaw, or more specifically, the joints that allow your jaws to move. These are the temporomandibular joints, and, when they aren’t functioning properly they can cause headaches, neck pain, facial pain and a lot of other problems.
1. What is TMJ?
Your TM joints are on the sides of your face near your ears. They allow smooth movement of your jaws, but if something goes wrong, the result can be improper jaw movement. This can trigger pain, sometimes chronic pain, in your head, face and neck. Since much of the sensation in your face is supplied by the same nerves that control the TM joints, a TMJ disorder can also cause problems that seem unrelated to your jaws, like hearing or vision problems.
2. Symptoms of TMJ disorder
Some of the most common symptoms of TMJ disorder are:
- Pain in the jaws when eating or chewing
- Cracking or popping noises when you open your mouth
- Soreness in and around the jaws
- Frequent headaches or neck pain
- Ear pain, congestion or ringing in the ears
- Difficulty opening the mouth, or occasional locked jaws
3. How TMJ can be treated
TMJ treatment begins with a diagnosis. In order to determine what’s causing your jaw problem, a dentist trained in neuromuscular dentistry uses a series of tests using electronic instruments that can indicate whether your bite is contributing to your headaches. If your habitual bite is a probable cause, identifying your correct jaw position while your muscles are relaxed is the next step.
Once your correct jaw position has been determined, the next step is keeping it that way for the long term. This can include orthotics to retrain jaw muscles, dental restorations to reshape teeth, or orthodontics to realign teeth or reshape the jaw.