Headaches are a common medical problem that people deal with on a daily basis. In addition to treating many dental concerns, we treat frequent headaches in Owens Cross Roads, AL. However, if you experience frequent headaches, you want to find the source of your pain and find treatment as soon as possible.
Temporomandibular joint disorders, or TMD, are bite problems that affect your jaw and the surrounding facial muscles. TMJ disorders often lead to teeth grinding, jaw pain, and headaches. Dr. Elizabeth Duling offers treatment for TMJ headaches to help patients lessen everyday pain and discomfort.
About TMJ Headaches in Owens Cross Roads, AL
TMJ headaches are difficult to diagnose because many patients may not realize they have a TMJ disorder. If you have a headache, you may not think about other problems contributing to your pain. In addition to headaches, you can experience jaw discomfort, tooth pain, and more.
While you may not notice these symptoms, there is a way to tell if you have a TMJ headache. TMJ headaches are a type of tension headache. These headaches typically start where the jaw hinges on each side of the face and then travel up to the temple. While your pain level can vary, it will typically remain in this area.
Common Causes of TMJ Headaches
A TMJ headache is a type of tension headache. They are often a result of stress that is put on the jaw joints and the surrounding facial muscles. This stress on the jaw is mostly caused by teeth grinding, teeth clenching, and an unaligned bite. Poor posture, a bad bite, and misaligned teeth can contribute to these headaches and TMD.
Symptoms of Headaches Caused by TMJ Disorders
In addition to headaches, you may also experience this TMJ symptoms:
- Jaw pain or tightness
- Pain in the temples or back of the head
- Pain in the shoulders, neck, and upper back
- Migraine-like headaches
- Teeth grinding or clenching
Treating TMJ Headaches in Owens Cross Roads, AL
Once we determine that you have headaches because of TMD, we will help find the best treatment for you. Our dental office will thoroughly examine and take dental X-rays of the teeth, gums, and jaw. Then, we may recommend one or more of these treatments:
Bruxism, or teeth clenching and grinding, are common symptoms that accompany TMJ disorders. A TMJ mouthguard is also known as a night guard. This night guard can cover the upper or lower teeth to prevent tooth wear and facial pain. Oral appliances use hard plastic, typically acrylic, to discourage teeth clenching and grinding.
We can take dental impressions of your smile to create this removable oral appliance. Our office sends these impressions to a lab that crafts the appliance. After several weeks, you will return to our office to receive your night guard.
Wearing this appliance during sleep will prevent unconscious teeth grinding and clenching. They work by separating the teeth so the teeth cannot make contact, which will help relax the jaw. Less tension in the jaw will result in less frequent or no headaches.
When Dr. Duling diagnoses TMD, she measures your bite. She takes note of your range of motion, bite pressure, and how your teeth come together. Dr. Duling may see that your teeth are out of alignment or that gaps in your smile impact your bite. Misaligned and crooked teeth can worsen headaches and other TMD symptoms.
Restorative dentistry treatments help your teeth connect properly and align your bite. With a proper bite, you will no longer place stress on your jaw joints, and your TMJ headaches should disappear. Dr. Duling may recommend dental bonding, dental crowns, bridges, or other treatments to align your bite.
Dr. Duling offers several forms of clear aligners that can realign your bite. We offer ClearCorrect™ and Invisalign®. These aligners are clear and more comfortable compared to metal braces. During these treatments, you will wear clear aligners for several months. You will switch each pair of aligners for a new pair every couple of weeks to gently move your teeth into proper alignment.
We also offer Six Month Smiles. Six Month Smiles is similar to braces but offers several differences. This orthodontic treatment uses clear and light brackets and wires that match the natural color of your teeth. This will make these braces very discreet while they shift your teeth into their proper position.
Six Month Smiles will properly align your bite, making your top and bottom teeth connect correctly. Following treatment, you should feel less strain on your jaw joints and muscles and experience fewer TMJ headaches. Crooked teeth can contribute to TMJ pain and headaches because they place pressure on different areas of the smile.
How Can I Treat TMJ Headaches at Home?
In addition to dental treatment, we recommend incorporating at-home care to minimize headaches. Follow these tips when you feel tension headaches at home:
- Use Heat Packs: A hot compress increases blood circulation and reduces muscle and joint inflammation. Relaxing your facial muscles with a heating pad can also reduce tension headaches. You can apply heat 15 to 20 minutes at a time.
- Avoid Hard and Crunchy Foods: Biting and chewing hard foods can increase pain in your head and temple. Eating softer foods will help relax your jaw and reduce your chance of developing a tension headache.
- Correct Your Jaw Position: Sometimes, your jaw position can contribute to headaches. Relaxing your jaw can minimize tension in your face and lessen headaches. To relax your jaw, place the top of your tongue on the roof of the mouth behind your upper teeth. Then, slightly open your mouth. Your teeth should not be touching.
Treat Tension Headaches Today
If you experience headaches often, especially in the morning, schedule an appointment with Dr. Duling. She will analyze your bite to determine if you have TMD. Our dental practice offers many services to treat TMJ headaches in Owens Cross Roads, AL. Call our dental office for care at 256.202.4186. You can also schedule your next appointment online with our online form.