Are you up with headaches regularly? It may not be the glass of wine you had before bed last night; it could be a symptom of a common but often undiagnosed dental condition.
That’s right – we said dental condition. Headaches are frequently a symptom of temporomandibular joint dysfunction, or TMJD.
TMJ dysfunction affects the temporomandibular joints, the tiny joints on either side of the jaw that connect the lower jaw to the skull. These joints, or TMJs, act as hinges and allow the jaw to slide back and forth, side to side, and up and down.
The causes of TMJD vary among individuals. In manage cases, TMJD develops as a result of damage to the TMJs caused by injury, aging, and wear and tear. The result is pain in the jaw, jaw stiffness, loss of use of the jaw, and – you guessed it – headaches.
“Headaches are a common side effect of TMJD,” said Dr. Darin Ward, a Dallas, Texas, orthodontist.
But how can jaw problems cause headaches?
“When the jaw joints are out of alignment, they pull the muscles and nerves around the jaw out of alignment, causing pain and tension. This pain and tension can trigger headaches, particularly in the temples,” Ward said.
An unbalanced bite can also trigger TMJD.
“When the bite is off, there’s a significant amount of pressure on the TMJs, which leads to pain, creaking, popping and snapping of the jaw joint, headaches, facial pain, and other symptoms,” Ward said.
Statistics from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research show that more than 10 million Americans are affected by TMJ disorders.
Many sufferers of TMJD describe their head pain as feeling like their head is being squeezed continuously.
“This is often referred to as a tension headache,” Ward said.
Having regular headaches is not an indicator of TMJD, but if headaches are present with other symptoms of the condition, affected individuals should talk to their dentist or doctor.
“If you’re having clicking or popping of the jaw when talking or chewing, clenching your teeth, unexplained ear pain or your jaw feels tired, it’s worth a checkup,” Ward said.
Source: Popsugar. Is TMJ Disorder the Culprit Behind Your Regular Headaches? 26 February 2020.