What is The TMJ?

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint connecting the lower jaw to the skull, which allows our jawbone to move as needed for eating, speaking, and yawning. The joint is supported by muscles located on top and at the sides of the head, underneath the jaw near the throat, and the cheeks. These are connected to muscles in the chest and shoulders by tendons and other muscles.

What is TMJ Disorder and How Do I Determine if it is Causing My Migraine?

When the TMJ is out of alignment, which often occurs in patients with malocclusion or a “bad bite,” it can cause strain on the adjoining muscles. When head and facial muscles are affected by this strain, the patient may suffer a migraine headache. Because treatment for migraine depends on identifying the cause of the headache, it is important to determine if the headaches are related to TMJ disorder, or if the two just tend to happen simultaneously.
The correct diagnosis can be made by determining whether the patient is showing any of the other signs of typical TMJ disorder such as:

  • Pain and tenderness in one or both TMJ joints or the jaw itself
  • The occurrence of parafunction (jaw clenching or grinding)
  • Facial pain or ache when you speak or eat
  • Pain that resembles an earache – in and around one or both ears
  • A locking sensation in the joint or stiffness that makes opening and closing the jaw Difficult
  • Pain accompanied by clicking or grating sounds when speaking or chewing

If you have any of these symptoms as well as migraines, even if you do not experience them simultaneously, you could have migraine headaches triggered by TMJ disorder. 

Causes of TMJ Disorder

Poor jaw alignment, an injury to the TMJ, or long-term teeth grinding or clenching, can cause TMJ disorder. The temporomandibular joint works like a sliding hinge, with the bones covered in cartilage and separated by a small disk that acts as a shock absorber. When this disk is moved out of alignment, it can cause a variety of symptoms. Anything that breaks down the cartilage, like various forms of arthritis and connective tissue diseases, can also contribute to TMJ disorder.

How Your Neuromuscular Dentist in Glenview, IL May be Able to Help

While TMJ disorder is not the cause of all migraines, it causes pain and discomfort on its own as well as being a known contributing factor for migraine headaches. For patients suffering from both migraine attacks and TMJ disorder, there is always a risk one has nothing to do with the other. However, treating the TMJ issue will likely help to reduce migraine frequency, nonetheless.

At Chicago Beautiful Smiles, you will work with a dentist in Glenview, IL who understands how this joint disorder can affect the rest of the body, and whose goal is to develop a treatment plan to restore systemic health and function. Call today.