TMJ/TMD Aches vs. Migraines

One of the most common symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ/TMD) is persistent and intense headaches. These headaches can be very painful but generally are not the same as migraines. Both headaches can tend to feel the same, but the causes are different.

The causes of TMJ headaches include :

• Improper bite
• Jaw clenching
• Teeth grinding
• Injury to the TMJ

All of these things cause excessive and unhealthy forces to be exerted on the TMJ structures. These forces exerted on the TMJ strain the muscles and nerves surrounding the joint, resulting in tension that leads to pain and headaches. TMJ headaches many times lead to pain spreading to the neck and shoulders.

Not a lot is known about the causes of migraines. Migraines do have certain well-documented triggers, such as bright lights, loud noises, and various smells and foods.

When you seek help for migraine-like headaches, doctors who do not have a background in dentistry will most often treat the headaches as migraines. Migraines are treated with medications, as well as dietary and lifestyle changes. If your headaches are actually caused by TMJ, migraine treatments will not address the cause of your headaches or prevent them, only temporarily relieve the pain. Instead, you may require TMJ treatments.

For TMJ treatment in Phoenix, Arizona and the surrounding east valley areas, please contact the experienced neuromuscular dentists Dr. Scott LeSueur and Dr. Charles Dodaro to schedule a consultation.

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