Most people suffer from headaches at some point in their life. However, frequent headaches should be a sign that something might be wrong. If you suffer from headaches every day, especially when you wake up in the morning, you could be suffering from Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD). Physicians often overlook or misdiagnose TMJ headaches. Chapel Hill dentist, Dr. Furgurson has special experience diagnosing and treating patients who suffer from TMJ headaches and migraines.
How Frequent Headaches Relate To Dentistry
One of the more common symptoms that patients with TMJ disorder share is frequent headaches. Misaligned teeth can cause them and other painful TMJ symptoms. These “TMJ headaches” often occur in the morning as a result of clenching the jaw and grinding the teeth during sleep. Also, the simple fact that your jaw has to strain to bite the right way can lead to these headaches. Other signs that you may have TMJ headaches are:
- Facial pain (often in the temple region or sides of the face)
- Pain in the neck or older shoulders
- Migraines or headaches
- Earache or feeling of fullness in the ears
TMJ Headache Therapy
If you suspect that a TMJ disorder, teeth grinding, misaligned teeth, or other dental problems may be causing your headaches, the first step is an evaluation with our dentist. Dr. Furgurson will review your dental and medical history. Then he will examine the fit of your bite and alignment of the TMJ.
Depending on your condition, the dentist may suggest one or several treatments. Treatment may include an oral appliance, such as a TMJ mouthguard. It may also include bite correction therapy which would solve problems with the alignment of teeth and TMJ joints.
- TMJ Mouthguard – A custom removable appliance that you wear during sleep. The purpose of this treatment is to reduce or prevent teeth grinding and clenching and therefore reduce the occurrence of morning headaches.
- Bite Correction – Headaches often result from an unbalanced bite. Dr. Furgurson can solve this issue through a series of adjustments, bringing the teeth into proper alignment. This type of treatment may also include reshaping the teeth, orthodontics, and restorative dentistry (crowns, bridges or implants) depending on your condition.
Frequent Headache FAQs
Are there other dental issues that can cause headaches?
Yes. Tooth decay and gum disease can cause infections in the mouth that can also lead to headaches. The best way to avoid these is to continue with a strict oral hygiene routine at home and visit your dentist every six months for proper cleaning. However, please know that not all headaches are from dental problems. Please contact your general practitioner if you are having headaches and they are not dental related.
What dental problems can cause headaches?
Teeth grinding and TMJ are the most common causes of dental headaches. They can make you clench your jaw and your jaw muscles to become tight. These symptoms cause tension in the jaw and frequent headaches.
How long do headaches last after dental work?
It is not uncommon for patients to have a headache after dental work, specifically tooth extractions. Most patients report that this goes away after a few days once the area begins to heal. It really depends on what procedure you received, and the extent of work done.
Are headaches normal after dental implants?
Some patients may experience headaches after dental implants. It is not common but it is not unheard of. If you are experiencing headaches for an extended time after implants are placed, contact your dentist for a followup to be sure nothing is infected.
If you have been suffering from frequent headaches or experience jaw pain and tension, schedule an appointment with Dr. Furgurson or Dr. White in our Durham area dentist office. Your dentist will evaluate all aspects of your occlusal system and discuss your overall health and lifestyle habits in order to find the root cause of your pain. Contact us at 919.736.6175 or request an appointment online.