Are You Having a TMJ Migraine?

Approximately 39 million people in the United States experience migraine symptoms. Worldwide, migraines are the most common neurological illness and the third most common of all illnesses. Remarkably, some doctors believe migraine statistics are low due to undiagnosed cases. Possibly related to the high incidence of migraine is the high prevalence of TMJ disorder, which some studies show affects 12 million adults in the United States. Many experts believe there is a strong link between these two conditions. Find out below if you are having a TMJ migraine and what to do about it.

If you have persistent headaches and other symptoms of TMJ dysfunction, schedule an appointment at Trident Dental for a comprehensive TMJ evaluation.

What is a Migraine?

The classical definition of migraine includes:

  • Having at least five headaches that lasted between four hours and three days. Each headache must have involved at least two of the below symptoms.

  • Located on one side of the head.

  • Pain is pulsating in nature.

  • Pain intensity is moderate or severe.

  • Pain is aggravated by routine physical activity, or pain causes the patient to avoid normal daily activities.

Besides this set of symptoms, the patient must experience either:

  • Nausea and/or vomiting.

  • Sensitivity to light and abnormal fear of sound.

While this is a helpful definition, migraine experts recognize that migraine is a complex neurological disease that includes symptoms throughout the body. Unfortunately, these additional symptoms may not be diagnosed as related to migraine:

  • Impaired balance.

  • Aphasia or difficulty putting words together.

  • Pressure in the ear and sinus on the affected side.

  • Sleeping difficulties.

  • Anxiety.

Are You Having a TMJ Migraine?

TMJ disorder is caused by a dysfunctional temporomandibular joint (TMJ), a complex joint made up of bones, muscles, ligaments, a disc between the bones, and nerves. TMJ disorder has many symptoms, including jaw pain, difficulty chewing, and loss of jaw mobility. One of the most common symptoms of TMJ disorder is headaches

The challenge for healthcare providers is diagnosing that the headache experienced by someone with TMJ disorder is a migraine. Making diagnosis more difficult is the different kinds of headaches. Typically, a migraine is known as a primary headache like tension and cluster headaches. This means that the headache is the main problem and is not caused by another condition.

Although TMJ can include tension or muscular headaches, there is evidence that it can act as a trigger to the serious condition of a migraine. When migraines occur or become more frequent with accompanying TMJ symptoms, treating the TMJ may help relieve the migraine. This could be accounted for by reducing stress after alleviating the TMJ and allowing the migraine to resolve.

Treatment for TMJ Migraine

If you suspect that TMJ disorder is causing or worsening migraine headaches, you should consult your dentist for an evaluation. The treatments dentists usually offer for TMJ disorder include:

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The oral health care providers at Trident Dental can patiently and thoroughly diagnose TMJ disorder. Then, we can provide a comprehensive treatment plan to help relieve your headaches and other symptoms such as tooth pain and bruxism.

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