Do you frequently experience headaches? Has your doctor been unable to explain them, forcing you to look for headache treatment in Spokane? Or maybe they have given you a diagnosis, but the treatments don’t seem to work. If that’s the case, it may be that your headaches are related to temporomandibular joint disorders (called TMJ or TMD). Doctors aren’t well equipped to recognize, diagnose, or treat TMJ. Instead, a neuromuscular dentist can help.

If you are looking for help with persistent or recurring headache in the Spokane area, please call (509) 532-1111 today for an appointment with neuromuscular dentist Ken or Marnie Collins at Collins Dentistry & Aesthetics.

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Headache Linked to TMJ

Headache is one of the most common symptoms of TMJ. In part, that’s because there are multiple types of headaches that have been linked to the condition. Most often, TMJ is linked to:

  • Tension headaches
  • Migraine headaches
  • Referred pain headaches

Although there are different mechanisms that link these headaches, TMJ treatment can relieve them all.

Tension Headache and TMJ

Tension headaches are the most common headaches. They may account for more than three-quarters of all headaches. They are also the headaches most commonly associated with TMJ.

Tension headaches occur when muscles in the head are tense and won’t immediately relax, causing pain to themselves and surrounding tissues. Most TMJ-related pain is also linked to muscle tension. When your jaw is out of alignment, jaw muscles often remain perpetually tense. They work hard to try to pull the jaw into position (and may destroy the teeth and jaw joints in the process).

Tension headaches may be the jaw muscles themselves. The temporalis muscle is a jaw muscle that attaches at the side of the head just behind the eyes. This could be the source of many tension headaches. In addition, the jaw muscles can pass their tension on to other muscles in the head.

Migraines and TMJ

The link between migraines and TMJ is not as well understood. In part, that’s because migraines themselves aren’t well understood. We think there are three links between migraines and TMJ.

First, it’s possible that you have a tension headache misdiagnosed as a migraine. This is common.

Second, it’s common for tension headaches to trigger migraines. TMJ could be causing your tension headaches and setting the chain reaction in motion.

Finally, one important link in the causal chain of migraines is the trigeminal nerve. This nerve sends signals out to and receives them back from your jaw muscles. Tension and pain in the jaw muscles could overstimulate the trigeminal nerve, setting off migraines.

Referred Pain Headaches

Referred pain is when you feel pain in one part of the body, but the source of the pain is another. Thus, you might feel the pain as a headache, but it’s actually your jaw joint or your tooth that is hurting.

Referred pain might seem implausible, but it’s more common than you’d think.

Is Your Headache Linked to TMJ?

Headaches can be caused by many different things. So how do you know whether you should see a neuromuscular dentist?
Usually, it’s a good idea to see a neuromuscular dentist if one or more of the following are true:

  • Headaches seem to occur after intense jaw activity (lots of talking, a meal that’s hard to chew, clenching or grinding of teeth)
  • You have other TMJ symptoms
  • Other headache treatments aren’t helping

If any of those describe your headaches, we are ready to help. Please call (509) 532-1111 today for an appointment with a Spokane neuromuscular dentist at Collins Dentistry & Aesthetics.