Blog / Dental Health

Is TMJ the Cause of Your Headaches?

December 21, 2016

Woman and dentist walking next to each other in dental officeIf you experience headaches, you may be inclined to think they’re stress-related. While that might be the case, it isn’t always. Oftentimes, TMJ headaches are mistaken for tension headaches. How do you know which type you have? Read on to learn the key differences between the two.

What Is TMJ?

TMJ is a term often used (incorrectly) to describe jaw pain. However, TMJ is actually the temporomandibular joint, which connects your jawbone to your skull. You can think of it as similar to a hinge. When someone has a temporomandibular disorder (TMD), they experience pain in the joint and the muscles controlling jaw movement.

What Causes TMD?

Sometimes, TMD is caused by trauma to the jaw. However, for many people who experience TMD, there is no obvious cause. Because TMD is more common in women, scientists are researching whether it’s linked to female hormones.

How Do I Know If My Headache Is Related to TMD?

A TMD-related headache is usually accompanied by:

  • A crackling or grinding sound when moving the jaw
  • Joint stiffness, making it uncomfortable to open or close your mouth
  • Earaches
  • Facial pain or tenderness
  • Jaws that get stuck or “lock”
  • Pain or pressure behind the eyes

TMD sufferers may also notice a sudden change in the way their upper and lower teeth fit together.

While a TMD-related headache can trigger a migraine if you’re already sensitive to them, TMD headaches aren’t associated with fatigue, nausea, or sensitivity to light and sound.

By paying attention to the symptoms you’re experiencing with your headaches, you’ll be better able to determine whether they are related to TMD. However, for a definitive diagnosis, we recommend that you visit Petry & Walton for a TMD consultation.

How Can Petry & Walton Dental Help Treat My TMD?

Dr. Petry and Dr. Walton both have extensive TMD training. When you come in for an appointment, they’ll evaluate your condition by getting a complete medical history, asking about the symptoms you’ve experienced, and conducting a thorough exam.

If you’re diagnosed with TMD, they offer a number of treatment options for alleviating the pain including: hot/cold packs, eating soft foods, custom-fitted night guards, certain types of dental procedures, and pain medication. In severe cases, they may recommend laser therapy, injections, or surgery. Because most jaw problems get better over time, conservative treatments are usually tried first.

We recommend that if you believe you have TMD, you schedule an appointment without delay. While the symptoms can lessen with time, we know they can be extremely painful and frustrating while they’re occurring. By scheduling an appointment today, you can be treated—and experience relief—much sooner than if you take a wait-and-see approach.

If you would like to discuss your TMD or TMD symptoms with us, it’s easy to schedule a consultation with Dr. Petry or Dr. Walton. You can request one online, simply by clicking here, or by calling our office at 330.434.3485. We are conveniently located at 508 E. Exchange Street in the heart of Akron.