With busy schedules, a headache can become a normal inconvenience to your day. A number of common causes of a headache include:
- Poor posture
- Skipped meals
- Changes in sleep pattern
- Lack of sleep
- Certain foods
What many patients don’t know is headaches can be a common sign of an underlying medical issue which needs to be seriously addressed.
This issue stems from a health concern with your teeth, jaw alignment or bite. This is known as temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ).
The TMJ is a crucial joint which connects your jaw to your skull and affects your jaw movement. Your TMJ plays an important role in talking, chewing and laughing.
Because there are many potential causes of headaches; TMJ headaches are often misdiagnosed and treated as regular headaches.
TMJ disorder headaches
TMJ headaches often mimic tension and sinus headaches as well as migraines. Which is problematic because it means a TMJ headache is often misdiagnosed. This leads to patients being given regular pain killers. And while these do alleviate headache symptoms, they don’t treat the cause.
Tension to your TMJ joints could bring about a headache
Tension to your TMJ joint is commonly caused by:
- Clenching or Grinding your teeth
- Osteoarthritis – A form of arthritis
- Misaligned jaw
- Misaligned bite
5 questions you should ask yourself if you suspect your headaches are caused by a TMJ disorder
If you suffer persistent headaches and have yet to find a solution, your underlying issue could be your TMJ. Here are five questions you should ask yourself to see if you are suffering TMJ-related headaches.
1. Do you have tight jaw muscles or a ‘locked jaw’?
If you’re experiencing tightness in your jaw, this can be caused by:
- overexerting the jaw
Teeth grinding, clenching your jaw (a common symptom of stress) or a misaligned bite, can put extra strain on your jaw. Why you’re experiencing jaw tightness will determine if you feel it only on one side or both. The tightness may be accompanied by discomfort or pain that comes on gradually or quite suddenly.
Tightness in your TMJ muscle causes pressure to spread from your jaw to your temples. This is what can result in headaches.
2. Do you experience facial pain?
Facial pain can be caused by something as simple as an infected tooth. Or something more complex, like:
- Toothache can feel like it’s in your face rather than just the jaw.
- Problems with your air sinuses; these are located under the cheeks, near the ears and at the side of your nose.
- Temporomandibular jaw joint and its associated muscles. This is characterised by joint clicking or grating, jaw locking, facial pain, etc.
Sometimes you may experience pain in your forehead. Other times you may experience a similar tension in other parts of your face like your cheeks, your jaw and even your neck.
This is a common symptom of TMJ disorder.
3. Does your bite seem off?
Remember that your TMJ is the joint between your jaw and skull so its condition largely depends on your bite.
Your bite is the way your top and bottom teeth fit together. If you have a misaligned bite, the odds of your TMJ joints causing pain are fairly high.
4. Can you hear a ‘click’ when you open your mouth?
You may have noticed your jaw clicks when you open your mouth to eat, speak or yawn.
Take a second to slowly open and close your mouth while you are reading this. If you hear a soft clicking sound, then it could mean you have a TMJ disorder.
5. Do you snore?
Aside from being slightly annoying to the person sleeping next to you, snoring could point to a number of underlying respiratory concerns such as sleep apnoea.
It could also be a cause of:
- morning tension-type headaches
- high blood pressure
- poor concentration
- excessive daytime sleepiness
Snoring is often associated with sleep apnoea. Research has shown that people with sleep apnoea have a much higher chance of having temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD).
5 TMJ headache symptoms
If you are experiencing:
- tightness in your jaw
- facial pain
- misaligned bite
- clicking when you yawn or eat
your headaches may be caused by TMD.
If so, we would advise that you book an appointment at TMJ Centre Melbourne to get the advice and diagnosis you need.
TMJ Centre Melbourne’s unique approach to treatment alleviates jaw pain through physical therapy and dental treatments.
If you would like more information on treating TMJ related headaches, or to request a consultation, please contact us today.