Live Oak Dental Group

man holding his head in pain from TMJ migraine

The Source of Your Migraines? It Could Be TMJ

There’s no doubt the pain from a migraine headache is horrendous. The throbbing, intense, viselike feeling may occur on one, or both sides of your head, and typically becomes more violent with movement or exposure to light. 

A migraine headache lasts anywhere from a few hours to a few days, and usually renders the sufferer bed-ridden until it passes. Migraine headaches can cause nausea and vomiting, dizziness, and, in some instances, trigger vertigo. 

Those experiencing migraine may have aura symptoms, see bright flashes of light, halos around lights, or lose vision temporarily in one or both eyes. Migraines can affect your hearing, cause difficulty speaking, and give your limbs a sensation of “going to sleep.” 

Common triggers for migraines

While very little is known about the root cause of migraine headaches, there are some common triggers, shared by the majority of sufferers. Among them, stress, caffeine, alcohol, strong smells, bright light, physical exertion, certain medications, and changes in the weather are all common migraine triggers. For many women, monthly hormonal changes, pregnancy, or menopause are very likely to trigger migraines. 

Migraines and your jaw

Another shared trigger for migraine headaches seems to be jaw-related. The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is the hinge-like joint that connects your upper and lower jaw. This joint is supported by muscles which enable you to move your jaw when speaking, eating, and yawning. 

When there is a misalignment in your bite, due to the positioning of your teeth, you will experience issues with your TMJ that causes severe pain and mimics that of a migraine.

Although a TMJ-related headache isn’t necessarily a true migraine, it behaves as one and that’s why some dentists and medical doctors believe there is a connection between TMJ disorder headaches, possibly misdiagnosed as migraines. 

In fact, TMJ-related headaches and migraine headaches share many of the same characteristics. Because both conditions present identically, many physicians will often look to traditional migraine treatments and bypass treatment for TMJ disorder, which could essentially bring long-lasting, often permanent, relief. 

Similar headaches, different solutions

As mentioned above, the symptoms of TMJ disorder and the headache that accompanies the condition are very much like migraine pain. Pain in and around the eyes, jaw pain, neck pain and stiffness, shooting, pulsing, or throbbing head pain, as well as a feeling of tightness that can cause tingling are all common symptoms of TMJ headaches. 

Unfortunately, many doctors diagnose TMJ-related headaches as migraines. This misdiagnosis can lead to years of suffering, and greatly interrupt your lifestyle, taking you out of the game far too often, and unnecessarily. 

TMJ disorder sufferers can find relief from pain by treating the misaligned jaw. Dentists Richard Hardt and Lawryn Monterroso specialize in finding solutions for your TMJ pain, including migraine-like headaches. 

Treatment for TMJ pain usually begins with anti-inflammatory medication; however, if you’ve been misdiagnosed with migraines, your pain may be too intense to respond to over-the-counter pain relievers. 

Mouth guards, on the other hand, prevent you from grinding your teeth, or clenching your jaw. Many people do both without even being aware, often while they sleep, which leads to head and neck pain. For more painful and chronic TMJ problems, often associated with severe headaches, surgery is an option. 

Put an end to your pain

To find out more about all the ways we can help relieve your headaches, contact Richard Hardt, DDS, Family Dentistry. Our office is located in Porterville, California. Our caring staff will help you get to the bottom of your chronic, painful headaches and end your pain for good.