If you were to list the most common dental health symptoms, you might not put headaches near the top of the list (or on it at all). If you have TMJ disorder, however, then headaches might be in the top three, next to jaw pain and popping, clicking jaw joints. TMJ disorder affects the joints that connect your jaw to your skull. Patients who exhibit symptoms may endure the discomfort for years without finding an adequate diagnosis, or permanent relief through professional dental treatment.
TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder occurs when your jaw’s joints become misaligned, or sustain damage such as a punctured or dislocated disk. Besides controlling your mouth’s movement, the nerves that pass through both sides of your jaw, known as the trigeminal nerves, also account for the majority of sensory input from all of your cranial nerves. The disturbance to the joints can aggravate the trigeminal nerves, sending pain throughout each of their three far-reaching branches.
Diagnosing TMJ disorder is often more difficult than diagnosing more common issues, like cavities, because of the diverse range of possible causes and symptoms. Excessive stress can make your jaws consistently tense; grinding your teeth together can exhaust the muscles and fatigue the joints; crooked teeth can throw your bite off-balance and make your jaw strain harder. Causes, and therefore treatments, for TMJ disorder are case-specific, and differ from patient to patient according to the exact nature of the dysfunction.
Taking a holistic approach to oral and overall wellness, we can help you find relief from your TMJ headaches by restoring the proper balance to your bite. An occlusal splint may alleviate teeth-grinding (bruxism) to protect your teeth as well as allow your jaw to relax. In some cases, dental bonding, contouring, dental crowns, and other restorations may help reestablish the proper height and symmetry of your teeth for a more comfortable bite.