TMJ headaches and migraines: What’s the difference?

tmj headaches, san jose, los gatos, campbell, cupertino, saratoga, santa clara, monte serenoThere is a joint in your body that can cause more problems than your knees, ankles, elbows or any other joint or muscle that you have. It’s your temporomandibular joint, TMJ for short, and you have two of them. Your TM joints lie between your upper jaw and the base of your skull on either side of your head.

TMJ can be the underlying cause of:

  • jaw pain
  • neck pain
  • earaches
  • migraines
  • vision problems
  • sleep issues

and a host of other issues and pain.

What can go wrong with your TMJ?

When your TM joints are healthy, they function smoothly, allowing you to talk, chew and bite comfortably and with ease. However, there are a number of situations that can throw this important, complex joint out of whack. Genetics, injury or trauma, uneven dentistry, missing or damaged teeth or teeth grinding can all cause your TMJ to become misaligned.

When your bite is misaligned, your jaw muscles must work harder than they were designed to in order to help your jaw function properly. As they tire, they can become strained and tight compressing the nerves that surround them. The result can be very painful headaches.

Does TMJ cause migraine headaches?

The technical answer is “no.” Migraine headaches are caused by a problem with the trigeminal nerve. The trigeminal nerve is also involved in TMJ, but technically, TMJ headaches are not migraine headaches. Because of the close connection, however, a TMJ headache can often be misdiagnosed as a migraine.

Neuromuscular dentistry could help resolve your headaches

Neuromuscular dentistry involves treating the jaw area as a whole, including the bones, joints, muscles, ligaments and nerves. Treatment often involves non-invasive techniques like exercises or oral appliances that realign the bite while worn.

If a permanent bite change is recommended for long-term relief of symptoms, this can be accomplished by orthodontic treatment, surgery or dental reconstruction.

Do you have TMJ?

If you have frequent headaches or facial pain that your doctor has not been able to treat effectively, the problem might be TMJ.

If you would like to learn more about how your TM joint could be causing your headaches, please schedule a free consultation.