Why Frequent Headaches Shouldn’t Be Ignored — Fixing TMJ Issues To Finally End Your Pain

My Headaches Just Keep Coming Back!

Do you have frequent headaches? According to the National Headache Foundation, more than 45 million Americans suffer from frequent or recurrent headaches. Temporal migraines, cluster migraines, ‘hormonal migraines’, and stress related migraines can severely interfere with daily living, yet the search continues for lasting relief. Many patients have been to physicians, neurologists, psychiatrists, and pain management experts without improvement. They run tests, MRIs and CT scans, and can’t find anything wrong. However, pain is typically indicative of a deeper health issue.

Are My Headaches A Sign Of A Serious Health Problem?

It has been established that more than 85% of the pain in the head and neck area is from muscles. Restoring your muscles to a balanced and healthy relationship will provide relief for migraines. If left untreated it can cause significant pain in all areas of your body. Many patients are misdiagnosed by their physician as having a migraine when they are actually having a TMJ problem. TMJ is an abbreviation for the Temporomandibular Joint, the hinge joint more commonly known as the jaw. There is an anatomical link between TMJ disorder and migraine headaches, and a true migraine can be slightly different than the pain experienced from a TMJ issue. So if headaches have been stealing your thunder without any end in sight, it might be your jaw’s fault.

How Do I Know If It’s A Migraine Or A TMJ Problem?

This joint, located slightly in front of each ear, is composed of the temporal bone, the mandible, and the disc. This sliding joint, capable of great flexibility, allows for the jaw to be moved by the facial muscles in a wide range of directions. The disc within the TMJ can displace in a forward and inside direction. That disc can press against a major artery and therefore a vascular type headache can develop. This means the symptoms between a true migraine and one from a TMJ source are the same. Typically, though, a true migraine will attack infrequently, occuring only 2-3 times per year. In those patients that suffer with headaches that occur on a weekly or daily basis, a true migraine cannot be considered a primary source without ruling out other factors. In fact, an estimated 10 million Americans also suffer from TMJ issues without even realizing it for many years. The many nerves present in the jaw can result in pain appearing in nearby areas, and can cause pain or tenderness in different locations even if the jaw itself does not hurt.

Are TMJ Issues Really That Serious?

TMJ conditions may worsen with time if you do not seek proper treatment, and most patients are not aware that there are specially trained dentists to treat the problem. The TMJ is one of the most complicated joints in the body and has a specialized structure and tissue makeup; any disruption of its balance can result in other symptoms too, like tinnitus, neck and shoulder pain, depression, numbness in the fingers and arms, sleep problems, even fibromyalgia. It can exert over 260 pounds of force at the molars and unless this pressure is perfectly balanced it can throw the delicate balance of the jaw’s muscles, tendons, nerves, and ligaments into disarray. It needs to be able to move up and down and side to side, as well as handle the enormous forces that the jaw can exert. The function of the TMJ allows us to talk, chew, and swallow as needed. Problems occur when the ligaments between the two bones of the TMJ are damaged, causing a dislocation of the disc in between. This dislocation can cause clicking, uneven movement of the lower jaw, and/or pain of the TMJ. The right and left TMJ’s work dependently on each other. Therefore, if only one joint is injured, over time, that will strain or injure the other joint.

How Did I Develop A TMJ Disorder?

The injury may have occurred at a very young age from a fall, motor vehicle accident, or direct strike to the chin from sports or other physical activity. Milder type traumas to the TMJ include overextension of the mandible, poor head posture, chewing habits, grinding of the teeth, or even poor dental work or orthodontics. Bad sleeping habits, poor posture and incorrect lifting and carrying can also cause a misalignment of the atlas vertebrate (the top cervical bone in the neck) and contribute to symptoms of a TMJ disorder. Stress is an important factor too — it frequently increases muscle tension in the jaw, which creates imbalances over time. Your mouth and jaw can also shift naturally as you age.

What About Medication Like Excedrin® or Botox®?

Medicines offer immediate help with pain management, but are merely a “band-aid” solution and offer little help in the long term. Dangerous liver and stomach issues can result from overuse of over-the-counter pain relievers, as well as the side effects inherent to prescription medications. Injections of botulinum toxin (“botox”) directly into the jaw muscles are sometimes considered, but this approach is may have permanent and negative effects on bone density and muscle tissue. Surgery is unnecessarily invasive and incredibly expensive. Traditional dentistry assumes that the bones and teeth are the most important elements. This is never the case! Your occlusion is a three part system of bones, teeth, and muscles. Neuromuscular Dentistry includes the muscles of your face in finding your optimal bite. With Neuromuscular Dentistry the occlusion, or bite, of the jaw is improved in order to eliminate the pain you are suffering. Only when all three components are balanced and physiologically healthy are you able to enjoy optimal comfort.

How Can I Safely Fix TMJ Problems?

Doctor Logan has extensive experience in treating disorders of the head, jaw, and neck for years and in his practice as seen the correlation between chronic head pain and dental issues. Our office uses TruDenta technologies, which work together to reduce pain and inflammation from the very first session, with the end goal of creating a complete and lasting resolution of symptoms. No injections and no medications means no unpleasant side effects. A number of factors will determine what type of treatment you require. This whole-body approach could include therapeutic ultrasound, physical therapy, microcurrent therapy, low-level laser, massage, and/or herbal supplements. Most importantly, the extent of the disorder, your age, and overall health will be considered when a strategic plan for your optimal oral health is made. Most patients see significant results after just one treatment! Please refer to our patient stories page to hear from actual patients that have benefited from this incredible system. Give our office a call to schedule your FREE complimentary screening and find out how the Headache and Migraine Center of Kinnelon can offer you permanent TMJ relief!