Persistent headaches can be extremely uncomfortable and debilitating. The situation can be except especially frustrating if you’re unable to trace the headache to a definite cause. Proper diagnosis can help determine effective treatment. If you suffer from persistent headaches, it’s possible that you’re experiencing migraines. However persistent, severe headaches can also be a symptom of TMJ.
What Is TMJ?
TMJ, also called TMD, or temporomandibular joint disorder, occurs when the jaw joint where the lower jaw, or mandible, meets the temporal bone, is out of proper alignment. This can cause a wide variety of symptoms. Many of the symptoms of TMD can also be mistaken for other issues, so it’s very important to be sure you get an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.
If you have persistent headaches, especially if these headaches are accompanied by nausea, sensitivity to light, or disruptions to your vision, you should see a doctor and be evaluated to see if you are suffering from migraines. Persistent headaches accompanied by discomfort in the ear, jaw, or neck and upper back, could indicate issues with TMD. Headaches can be a symptom of other more serious conditions also, so be sure to consult with your doctor and dentist to be sure you get the correct diagnosis and the correct treatment.
Treatment for TMD
If your dentist diagnoses TMD, there are several possible treatments that could significantly relieve your discomfort. Some common treatments for temporomandibular joint disorder include:
- A mouth guard or other orthotic to wear at night
- Orthodontic treatment to correct your bite
- Stress relief techniques to reduce tension on your jaw
- Surgery to properly align the jaw joint
Since teeth grinding, or bruxis, is a common symptom and also can be a cause of TMJ, a mouth guard will help keep you from grinding your teeth overnight. Orthodontic treatment can shift your bite so your jaw joint sits in the correct position. For very severe TMJ, you might require surgery to restructure the temporomandibular joint.