We often think of headaches as being the result of stress, caffeine withdrawal, or even hunger. But if you wake up with headaches more often than not, it could be a sign that there’s a different cause of your pain.
Do you clench your jaw while you sleep? Do you grind your teeth at night? You may not even realize it, but morning headaches could be a sign of temporomandibular joint disorder — also known as TMJ.
At the practice of Scott Young, DDS, in The Woodlands, Texas, you can find expert treatment for headaches related to TMJ disorders. Beyond general and cosmetic dentistry, Dr. Young practices neuromuscular dentistry. This means he’s qualified and specially trained to address the underlying causes of TMJ to correct jaw misalignment problems, which can alleviate headaches.
What is TMJ?
Your temporomandibular joints are complicated hinges. They allow you to open your mouth wide, chew, talk, and slide you lower jaw from side to side. When you grind your teeth, or your jaw muscles become tense, you can end up with jaw pain and headaches.
If you have TMJ, it might be due to genetics, hormones, or a physical injury. Furthermore, as you get older, you might develop TMJ due to arthritis. Or, if you happen to play the violin, the strain of holding the instrument under your chin could cause joint pain and headaches.
Clenching your jaw over the stress of your day or grinding your teeth can also contribute to TMJ symptoms.
TMJ symptoms aren’t limited to your jaw
While you may think that if you have a problem with your jaw that you’ll experience the most pain when you chew or speak. However, TMJ disorders can cause a variety of symptoms that affect areas other than your jaw. TMJ can cause:
- Headaches and migraines
- Neck aches
- Facial pain
If you experience headaches or any of these other symptoms on a regular basis — especially if these symptoms are combined with pain or popping in your jaw — you should make an appointment with Dr. Young to see if you may have a TMJ disorder.
TMJ treatment can reduce headache pain
To see if you have TMJ, Dr. Young will closely examine your temporomandibular joints for any issues. If you have TMJ, Dr. Young will recommend noninvasive treatments based on the underlying causes. He will aim to correct alignment issues and ease the tension in your face and neck muscles.
Based on your symptoms, treatment for TMJ headaches may include wearing a mouthguard while you sleep, physical therapy to stretch tight muscles, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) to help release tension in your jaw.
If you grind and clench your teeth at night, a mouthguard can stop you from doing so. The guard can also prevent wear and tear on your teeth. As Dr. Young corrects your jaw alignment and you stop grinding your teeth, your headaches should go away naturally.
To find out if TMJ is the source of your headache pain, book an appointment online or over the phone with Scott Young, DDS today.