TMJ Disorder and Migraine Headaches

If you are experiencing persistent headaches that aren’t going away, it wouldn’t be wise to rule out TMJ disorder. This condition occurs when the temporomandibular joint in the body is irritated. The nerves in this area innervate the blood vessels in the brain, so when aggravated can cause serious head pain. This is why migraines are much more serious than standard tension headaches. They affect the entire head and neck region and often cause tension and pain in the jaw. Like tension headaches, true migraines caused by TMJ disorder can be treated. Avoidance of surgery is a benefit many patients are looking for.

How do I know if I have TMJ Disorder?

One way to tell if you may have TMJ disorder is by assessing the symptoms of your migraine. If you experience teeth grinding or clenching that occurs automatically, or jaw pain or clicking in your jaw’s joints that accompany the migraine, you will want to consult Dr. Sanderson. The only way to tell for sure if this condition is present is by inspecting the mouth for teeth misalignment that can be caused by gradual shifting or tooth loss, as well as the function and integrity of the joint. Dr. Sanderson will likely suggest that we perform an X-ray to get an accurate view of the temporomandibular joint. There are several views, as well as Cone Beam Technology, that can be used for thorough evaluation of the temporomandibular joints.

How is TMJ Treated?

There are a number of treatment methods for TMJ disorder, and these range from self-care techniques such as making dietary adjustments, manually stopping teeth clenching and by applying ice packs to the mouth to ease the tension.

Splint Therapy

Many times we find that splint therapy for patients, with these problems offers the best results. These splints are comprised of hard plastic and are inserted into the jaw like a mouth guard. Their purpose is to allow the muscles in the jaw to relax by preventing seizing and clenching. In a sense, they act as a stabilizing mechanism that deters the reactions brought on by the temporomandibular joint disharmony. There are several different kinds of splints available for use depending on what the specific problem is. After the splint therapy we will then determine if other treatment is needed to maintain the stability created with the splint.