TMJ and Headaches

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TMJ and Headaches

Chronic headaches? It could be TMJ.

If you suffer from frequent headaches, you might write them off as minor side effects of dehydration, tension, or the previous evening’s overindulgences. In fact, you may actually be suffering from TMJ headaches. Millions of Americans have TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder). TMJ has symptoms that mimic a variety of different types of headaches. If you’re looking for a simple, convenient way to address your TMJ headaches, try wearing an FDA-cleared TMJ mouth guard from CustMbite. Used in conjunction with proper medical and dental care, many patients report a significant reduction in the frequency of their TMJ headaches.

What is TMJ?

TMJ (also known as TMJD) affects the temporomandibular joint, the hinge that connects your jaw and skull. A healthy joint moves up and down and side to side smoothly, allowing you to talk, yawn, and chew with ease. Because the temporomandibular joint both opens and glides, it requires a more complex system than simpler joints. Since the muscles, ligaments, and joints of your head and neck are so intricately entwined, even a small malfunction or misalignment can cause discomfort throughout your head and neck. 

Left untreated, TMJD can have serious long-term consequences. The good news is that many symptoms of TMJ (including TMJ headaches) can be addressed without surgical interventions. Some of the simple changes your dentist might recommend include a combination of at-home TMJ exercises, lifestyle and dietary adjustments, and wearing a mouth guard for TMJ. CustMbite’s thin, comfortable mouthguards are a great way to reduce uncomfortable pressure on your teeth and jaw.

Can TMJ cause headaches?

Absolutely. In fact, TMJ is the root cause of symptoms that affect the entire upper body. The health of the temporomandibular joint is just one component of your upper body, and any misalignment can throw the whole system off. TMJ symptoms can start a vicious cycle that causes chronic head pain. For example, nightly pressure from bruxism (teeth grinding) caused by misalignment of the jaw can contribute to a headache and aggravate the TMJ itself. 

If headache pain is one of your symptoms, get in touch with a dentist or doctor for a diagnosis and to talk about your options. There are many different TMJ headache treatments available, ranging from noninvasive, at-home options like CustMbite mouth guards for TMJ to inpatient TMJ surgeries. A healthcare professional can help you decide on the best course of action to treat your TMJ headaches.

What does a TMJ headache feel like?

The signs of a TMJ headache can be easy to misinterpret. Some of the symptoms are similar to those of migraine and tension headaches. Other causes (such as bruxing caused by TMJD) are treatable on their own, so it can take some time to discover the real root of the problem. A TMJ headache may present itself in a variety of ways, such as: 

  • Pain in the forehead or temples
  • Scalp tenderness
  • Sinus pain
  • Shooting sensations from the back of the neck into the head
  • Neck stiffness
  • Ear pain and hearing changes  

What are the signs that my headache is caused by TMJ? 

Though it’s common for most people to experience a headache every now and again, people with TMJ might notice that their headaches occur on a regular basis. The discomfort caused by TMJ headaches may be misdiagnosed as another type of headache, but there are a few signs that can help to pinpoint TMJ as the cause:

  • If you hear or feel your jaw click or pop when you open and close your mouth, that’s a sign that the jaw isn’t properly aligned. Though the sound itself may not cause discomfort, the muscles that support the joint may be painful due to the extra effort required to provide adequate stabilization and support.
  • If your teeth don’t fit together naturally or your bite feels “off”, it’s likely that your TMJ is off as well. The position of the TMJ is determined by where the teeth come together, so if your teeth feel uneven, your temporomandibular joint may be too.
  • If your head is in front of your shoulders when you’re sitting or standing, you have what’s known as “forward head posture”. This can cause strain on the muscles of the neck and the vertebrae, which can contribute to TMJ.
  • If you snore, your TMJ may be misaligned. Snoring happens when the lower jaw falls back farther than it should. Snoring doesn’t cause the headache, but it indicates that the muscles that support the jaw may be at fault for the headache-like discomfort you feel.

Underlying TMJ risk factors such as bruxism can also contribute to head pain since they increase TMJ inflammation. However, before recommending a costly and painful surgical procedure to address TMJ headaches, most dentists will recommend at-home interventions like TMJ mouth guards from CustMbite. Our TMJ mouth guard is a snap to incorporate into your nightly routine. They’re made from VistaMaxx, a bacteria-resistant, dishwasher-safe material that gives you the best of both worlds: top-notch shock absorption and superior comfort. VistaMaxx is extremely durable yet remains thin and flexible so you can speak clearly and breathe easily all night long. Plus, CustMbite mouth guards for TMJ are easy to mold (and unlike many other TMJ mouthguards on the market, easy to remold), so if your bite changes, your guard can too. 

What are the best treatments for a TMJ headache?

If you experience discomfort from TMJ headaches, you may fear that the only option is TMJ surgery. This isn’t necessarily the case though. When it comes to treating your headaches, it’s best to take a measured approach. Many patients find that nonsurgical interventions are just as effective as TMJ surgery. If you suffer from TMJ, there’s a good chance you’ll experience significant pain relief from incorporating chiropractic treatments, TMJ-specific exercises, or wearing a TMJ mouth guard. Take the first step toward addressing your TMJ headache pain and try CustMbite - the best mouth guard for TMJ available on the market today.

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