Migraines and the Jaw Joints
If you have chronic headaches, there could be many reasons, but one reason is often overlooked. Not many people think about headaches having a dental cause. Severe and chronic headaches are a principal symptom of Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD).
Not every dentist includes the jaw joints in dental work. Only a trained neuromuscular dentist will look at your teeth and gums in light of your jaw joints along with their muscles and nerves, your bite, and your posture.
You can feel the jaw joints by placing a finger in front of one ear and opening your mouth. That is a ball-and-socket joint and the most flexible joint in the body. It can more in three dimensions:
· Forward and back
· Up and down
Have you ever counted the number of times you open your mouth in one day — yawning, talking, biting and chewing, laughing? If the jaw joints are out of alignment, you are putting stress on the lower jaw and its muscles and nerves each time you move it. Over the years, this creates inflammation and chronic tension, as the jaw muscles keep trying to close the mouth correctly but failing.
When the jaw joints are out of alignment, so is your bite, and so probably are some of your teeth. It can also work the other way around: when your teeth are out of alignment, they throw your bite off, which puts the jaw joints out of alignment. These structures all work together and must be diagnosed and treated as a unit.
Several large nerves run through the face, head and neck, branching out repeatedly. When the jaw area is inflamed this can compress a nerve or several and cause pain. Depending on which part of which nerve is compressed, the pain can be in the head (often on one side only), the jaw, the ear, the neck, shoulder, or back.
TMD headaches are not migraines although they may well feel as if they are. They can be very severe and can last for several days each time. But they have a dental cause and migraines do not.
There are many TMD symptoms and most TMD sufferers have several of them, yet are unaware of having TMD. Most people are unaware that there is such a thing as TMD. Besides simple pain, some of the other symptoms are:
· Tooth grinding
· Jaw clenching
· Tooth sensitivity
· Ringing in the ears
· Limited jaw movement
· Worn or loose teeth
A neuromuscular dentist can diagnose and treat TMD. Some people go to a doctor for the âmigrainesâ and receive a pain prescription. Of course pain relief is a blessing, but a painkiller is not treating the cause of the pain. It would also not help to just visit your local general dentist. Neuromuscular dentistry is not taught in dental school. A dentist must pursue specialized training to gain the knowledge and skill to diagnose and treat TMD.