Everyone knows the feeling of a throbbing headache that gets in the way of work or school. If you don’t want this pain disrupting your life, it’s a good idea to try and narrow down the source of your migraines so that any underlying problems can be treated. Many headaches have an unexpected cause: excessive strain on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) that holds the lower jaw to the head. TMJ disorders are possible to treat, but how will you know if you actually have one? Here are 4 symptoms to look for that could point to the true reason for your migraines.
1. Clicking or Popping of the Jaw
Normally, the joints in your body shouldn’t be making any noise. An occasional popping or clicking sound when you open or close your jaw shouldn’t be a problem, but if it occurs frequently, it most likely means that the joint has moved out of position somewhat. The popping itself might not hurt, but it can still strain the joints and lead to pain.
2. Your Bite Has Changed
When there’s a problem with your TMJ, it will affect the teeth in your upper and lower jaw. Pay close attention to how your teeth come together when you close your mouth. Does anything seem different compared to what you have felt before? Are you noticing alignment problems where there weren’t any before? If you have any doubts about the way your smile is lining up, it may be a good idea to call a dentist in order to be diagnosed for a TMJ disorder.
3. Your Headache Occurs in Specific Areas
A headache linked to a TMJ disorder will normally occur around the forehead, temples, and the back of the head; it might even radiate down your neck. The pain occurs in these areas because of the strain that the muscles around the TMJ are experiencing; the discomfort is subtle, but it’s persistent and can easily spread to other areas.
4. Forward Head Posture
Does your head rest in a forward position? Under normal circumstances, it should stay centered over your shoulders when you’re not moving it. This might not seem important at first, but it’s important to realize that the head can weigh up to 10 pounds and is constantly supported by the neck; if it isn’t in its proper position, it’ll place undue stain on neck muscles and vertebrae.
The above symptoms don’t always point to a TMJ disorder, but if you haven’t been able to determine the true cause of recurring migraines, you should ask your dentist for an examination right away. If such a disorder is found, that’s actually good news; it means you have a chance to find real relief from your headaches as well as jaw problems!
About the Author
Dr. Mitch Conditt has over 35 years of experience providing specialty dental treatments, including sleep dentistry and TMJ therapy. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Carniofacial Pain and has been trained in neuromuscular dentistry, allowing him to accurately diagnose TMJ disorders and figure out the best form of treatment for each patient. To schedule an appointment, visit his website or call Fort Worth Snoring & Sleep Center at (817) 527-8500.