Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) causes a variety of symptoms. One of the more common symptoms is persistent headache. However, sometimes it is difficult to diagnose whether a headache is the result of TMD (also called TMJ) or a migraine headache. Persistent headaches should be evaluated by a doctor or dentist to determine their underlying cause.
Symptoms of TMJ
TMJ occurs when the jaw joint moves out of alignment. This can cause the joint to move roughly, and can also pinch or irritate the nerves that serve the face and mouth. The result is a wide range of symptoms. The variety of symptoms related to TMJ make it difficult to diagnose, especially since many other problems, some of them serious, can also cause the same symptoms.
Symptoms related to TMJ include:
- Persistent headaches
- Recurring earache
- Clicking in the jaw
- Discomfort in the jaw joint
- Habitual grinding or clenching of the teeth
If you have any of these symptoms, consult with your doctor or dentist to determine the underlying cause. Once the cause is found, the appropriate treatment can be planned.
Is It a Migraine?
Migraine headaches are different from those caused by TMD and require different treatment. It’s very important to receive an accurate diagnosis to ensure your treatment will be effective. TMD headaches can be as intense as migraine headaches, but the root cause is very different. Some symptoms that are more commonly associated with migraines include:
- Extreme sensitivity to light and/or sound
- Auras or other visual symptoms
- Specific triggers, such as certain foods
Part of diagnosing your headache will involve determining if these migraine-specific symptoms exist. If you are suffering from migraines, your doctor can prescribe appropriate medications or other therapies to relieve your discomfort. If the root cause of your headaches is TMD, you should consult with your dentist. Treatment could include orthodontic work, nightguards or, in some cases, surgery.
If you’re concerned about your oral health, call our caring team at Dakota Prosthodontics & Implant Center to schedule a consultation with our specialist.