Headaches and Migraines

Cosmetic Dentist Serving Tustin, Orange, Santa Ana & Other Areas of Orange County

Those who suffer from temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) may often have severe headaches or migraines. TMJ disorder (also called TMD) is an inflammation of the jaw joint, the joint that connects the lower jaw to the skull, as well as the muscles around the jaw and neck. You can feel it by placing your finger in front of one ear and opening your mouth.

The cartilage in the joint can wear down, causing the bones to rub together, which can be one cause of headaches and migraines. The joint can also become misaligned when teeth are misaligned, creating a misaligned bite (known as malocclusion). There are many causes of TMJ, and those with the condition have many different symptoms. Most of the symptoms are painful because several major nerves run through the jaw area, and perhaps the most painful symptom of all is the TMJ headache.

Dr. Joseph Henry can assess the health of your TMJ and recommend individualized treatment options. Please call (714) 385-1672 today.

Causes of TMJ Headaches

Life can be stressful these days in a city like Los Angeles. Juggling family, work, and social responsibilities is enough to keep anyone busy. As part of the overall ongoing stress, many of us develop nervous habits such as teeth grinding or clenching. This is one cause of TMJ. It can also be a result of TMJ that is caused by misaligned teeth.

Other causes are:

  • Arthritis
  • Joint dislocation
  • Extensive chewing on things such as hard candy or gum, which pushes teeth out of alignment
  • Injury to the jaw

The headaches arise because inflammation in the jaw area eventually creates pressure on the large nerves in the area. Why is the inflammation there? Because the teeth and jaw are out of alignment.

So your jaw tries to correct this by closing in the best way it can. It's a struggle that goes on daily. Think of how many times you open and close your mouth in a day: for talking, laughing, eating, and yawning. Each of those times, the lower jaw is struggling to meet correctly with the upper jaw, and is prevented by teeth being in the wrong places, and being wrong sizes.

When this goes on for years, chronic tension builds up in the jaw, creates inflammation around the head and face, and the many TMJ symptoms become evident.

Whether your TMD is caused by stress or an injury, the headaches are unpleasant at best. You need suffer them no more, because there are many qualified, cosmetic dentists like Dr. Henry, in the Los Angeles area who have been trained to diagnose and treat TMJ.

How to Deal With Your TMJ Headaches

Temporary relief from these headaches and migraines can sometimes be found by using cold or hot compresses against the jaw, and some people find that over-the-counter painkillers help reduce the pain. Many people visit doctor after doctor, and take a string of prescription painkillers, without ever thinking that there might be a dental cause of the headaches.

TMJ doesn't go away by itself. At some point, you'll need to have it diagnosed and treated by a neuromuscular dentist.

The first step of diagnosis is pain relief. When you come for your first TMJ treatment, Dr. Henry will connect you to a simple machine that delivers mild electrical stimulus via pads attached to the face, neck, head, and shoulders. After about a half-hour, your jaw will relax, perhaps for the first time in decades. This relaxation will evaporate the pain.

Dr. Henry can now see where your correct jaw position is: the relaxed one. He can go from there to planning how to make the relaxed position permanent. This could involve dental restorative work to better align your teeth, such as porcelain crowns or dental bonding.

If you or someone you know suffers from TMJ symptoms including headaches and migraines, please email Dr. Henry or call (714) 385-1672 to schedule your initial consultation today. Orange Center for Cosmetic Dentistry serves patients in Anaheim, Fullerton, and of course Orange, California.