Do you suffer from the pain of migraines or frequent headaches? If so, you know the value of relief. But what if relief meant dealing with a problem that originated in your mouth? If you have developed a temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, your headaches may cease with treatment of your mouth and jaw. Below, your Des Moines dentist, Dr. Jessica Johnson, answers your most frequently asked questions about the TMJs and their connection to headaches?
What causes a TMJ disorder?
The TMJs, the joints that connect the lower jaw to the skull, can develop a disorder when they come under strain. Bruxism (teeth grinding) and malocclusion (“bad bite”) are two common source of strain on the TMJs. Bruxism’s stress generates from the excessive forces of grinding and clenching, while malocclusion irritates the TMJs when the jaws, which don’t fit together properly, come together.
Why do TMJ disorders cause headaches?
The reason a disorder in the jaw can cause headaches has to do with the body’s nervous system and specifically one nerve: the trigeminal nerve. This nerve innervates the face and the neck, connecting nerves in the jaw with nerves all over the head. Thus, a disorder in the jaw can manifest itself in pain in other places, accounting for the many diverse symptoms of TMJ disorders including headaches, migraines, facial pain, earaches, and jaw pain.
How are TMJ disorders treated?
In order to treat a TMJ disorder, the cause must be determined. In the case of malocclusion, bite correction therapy may be necessary to realign the jaw and relieve the stress on the TMJs. If, however, the cause of the disorder is bruxism (teeth grinding), your Des Moines dentist, Dr. Johnson, may be able to prescribe a night guard, which protects teeth during the night and can retrain the muscles to stop bruxism. No more bruxism means no more strain on the jaw, which typically coincides with relief from headaches and from other symptoms.
Schedule a Visit with Your Des Moines Dentist
Do frequent headaches interrupt your day? Contact your Des Moines dentist, Dr. Johnson, today to schedule an appointment or a consultation by calling our 50266 dentist office at 515-223-9764. We welcome patients from West Des Moines, Waukee, Clive, and nearby Des Moines metro communities.