June is National Migraine Awareness Month! As a way to bring awareness, we thought it would be helpful to put out information about one of the causes of frequent headaches and migraines – TMJ. At Smile Columbia Dentistry in Columbia, SC, we want to help you put an end to your frequent headaches and migraines with TMJ treatment. Find out if your frequent headaches or migraines are caused by TMJ and learn how we can help.

Woman puts pressure on her face due to frequent headaches

The Association Between TMJ and Headaches

People who suffer from TMJ often get their headaches misdiagnosed as headaches instead of as a result of jaw pain. There are three different types of headaches associated with TMJ including:

Migraines – About 40% of those with TMJ also suffer from frequent migraines. When the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) becomes overactive and strains the jaw muscles, the trigeminal nerve gets triggered. The trigeminal nerve is one of the trigger points of migraines and also controls the jaw muscles and receives the pain signals for them. So when your jaw is in pain, it signals the trigeminal nerve which will atomically respond by triggering a migraine.

Tension Headaches – The jaw muscles are the largest in the head and can pass any tension they feel throughout the muscles they work with. These muscles span everywhere around the head like the back of the skull and down the neck. When your jaw muscles feel strained, they can send the signal throughout all of the muscles throughout the head, leading to a tension headache.

Referred Pain Headaches – The last type of TMJ headache you might experience is a referred pain headache. Referred pain headaches are headaches caused by a source of pain in another area of the body. For instance, if your jaw is in pain, sometimes your brain gets pain signals mixed up and misinterprets the source of the pain. Instead, it sends the signal to the wrong part of your body, and in this cause, your head when in fact the pain source is your jaw.

How TMJ and Headaches Differ

To find out if your headache is actually from TMJ, there are a few symptoms to look out for that are associated with TMJ and not ordinary headaches.

If you experience any of these other symptoms in addition to frequent headaches or migraines, you likely have TMJ. Schedule an appointment with our TMJ dentist in Columbia to get a TMJ diagnosis. Once our TMJ dentist Dr. Adam Hahn can diagnose you with TMJ, they can get you on a treatment plan that will relieve your TMJ symptoms for life. A headache-free life is just around the corner! Call us today at (803) 781-9090 to schedule an appointment.