Got Chronic Headaches? You Could Have TMJ Disorder

Got Chronic Headaches? You Could Have TMJ Disorder

Do you often wake up with headaches? Do you frequently suffer from jaw pain that makes it difficult to chew your food? You may have a Temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ, which is jaw pain from various medical and dental problems.

Veteran general and cosmetic dentist Johnny L. Smith, DMD, located in Peoria, AZ, explains TMJ disorder and outlines your treatment options. 

What is TMJ?

The TMJ is made up of nerves, bones, muscles, and blood vessels on both sides of your jaw. The TMJ connects your lower jaw to your skull, which explains how you can experience both head and jaw pain from grinding or clenching your teeth. Many people do this under stress or when dealing with anxiety and don’t realize they’re doing it! Over time, this can lead to problems in the head, neck, ear, and jaw.

If not treated, you may start to hear clicking or popping sounds when biting into your food or have problems with chewing altogether. You should see a doctor if you have difficulties opening your jaw.

What causes TMJ

People clench their jaws or grind their teeth for many different reasons, which may include:

Trauma

Many people who have experienced an emotional or physical trauma grind their teeth as a coping mechanism, leading to head and jaw pain.

Osteoarthritis

It’s natural for joints to become sore as we age, and the joints holding your jaw together are no exception. As the joints degenerate naturally, the wear-and-tear can result in lost cartilage, which can cause head and jaw pain.

Other causes

TMJ can be caused by certain cancers, as well as bone deformities diagnosed at birth.

How we treat TMJ disorder

Depending on the severity of your condition, you may be able to treat the pain at home with over-the-counter pain medication or by applying a warm compress to your jaw. You may want to avoid crunchy foods until your pain subsides. Some patients may benefit from wearing an oral TMJ device - an advanced oral appliance that allows the jaw muscles to relax, preventing them from causing harm to your teeth, jaw, and joints. The appliance helps symptoms of TMJ and reduces snoring, decreases the number of migraines, and more. 

Don’t endure pain; see us

If you’ve been experiencing chronic jaw pain and are concerned you may have TMJ, schedule an appointment with Dr. Smith. Call our office or request your appointment online today. 

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