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Headaches And Jaw Soreness? TMJ Might Be Causing Your Pain!

About 45 million Americans experience significant, painful headaches regularly. That means that nearly 17% of the population has chronic, hard-to-treat headaches. Often, these headaches are caused by migraines or stress. However, if you are also experiencing jaw pain with your headaches, they may be caused by oral health problems.

At the office of Roland Park dentist Matthew Wallengren, DDS, we’ll take a look at the two most common causes of headaches and jaw soreness – Bruxism, or teeth grinding, and TMJ/TMD disorders.

Bruxism

Bruxism, also known as “teeth grinding”, affects around 10% of the US population. Although it usually occurs during sleep, it can also occur during waking hours. It’s often caused by stress, but may also be caused by a bite misalignment. With this condition, patients clench their jaws and grind their teeth together, causing the incisors and canines to move laterally against each other. This can cause symptoms such as:

  • Loss of tooth enamel
  • Tooth pain
  • Highly sensitive teeth
  • Tired jaw muscles
  • Headaches
  • Chipped/cracked/broken teeth

Typically, bruxism is treated with a mouth guard. This retainer-like device is worn during sleep, and prevents contact between the teeth during sleep. In most cases, this is enough to resolve bruxism. But if left untreated, bruxism can also lead to TMJ disorders.

TMJ/TMD

TMJ and TMD usually both refer to temporomandibular joint disorders. This joint is what connects your jawbone to the temporal bone of your head. The TMJ joint is responsible for just about everything your jaw does. From yawning, to chewing, speaking, and more. If it becomes injured or misaligned, you may suffer symptoms including:

  • Stiffness of the jaw
  • Neck, facial, and jaw pain
  • Regular “clicking” or “popping” of the jaw
  • Serious headaches
  • Earaches
  • Tinnitus

TMJ disorders can be caused by a wide variety of issues, like bruxism. The excessive pressure placed on the jaw and teeth can cause the delicate TMJ joint to be displaced. Other causes can include improper bite position, traumatic impact injuries, and arthritis.

Mild cases of TMJ may resolve with basic self-care, such as avoiding yawning and opening the mouth widely. Application of ice or heating packs may also be helpful. Medical TMJ treatment includes mouth guards in cases of bruxism-induced TMJ, or another oral appliance or mouthguard designed to help the jaw muscles relax, and improve the alignment of the bite. Surgery is rarely required, except for very severe cases of TMJ/TMD.

Suffering From Headaches Or Jaw Soreness? Come To Dr. Matthew H. Wallengren Today!

At our practice, we’re dedicated to comprehensive dentistry. If you think you may have a TMJ disorder, contact Dr. Matthew H. Wallengren right away for a dental exam. He can evaluate your oral health and offer a treatment plan suited to your needs.

Contact us now for an appointment at (410) 435-1234, or come to our Baltimore office, located at 600 Wyndhurst Ave, Suite 270, Baltimore, MD 21210.

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