Headaches and Migraines: Symptoms of Tmj?

By: Patricia Woloch

When is a headache not a headache? Everyone gets headaches from time to time, but for millions of Americans, a headache can be the primary symptom of a condition called temporomandibular joint disorder, also known as TMJ. According to numerous estimates, TMJ is the third most common medical ailment in the United States. So when is a headache not a headache? For many people, the answer is when the headache is actually TMJ.

TMJ is when your jaw is improperly aligned. While this may sound simple, it actually manifests itself with a host of painful and potentially damaging symptoms. Some of the most common ones are headaches, facial numbness, tingling in the arms, legs and fingers, neck pain, ringing in the ears, chipped teeth, and grinding teeth.

While TMJ is very common, diagnosing it is not very easy. Only a qualified medical professional - in most cases, a neuromuscular dentist - can properly diagnose TMJ. It involves special scans and computer modeling, so that your bite position can be analyzed.

Neuromuscular Dentists: The TMJ Experts

Many people don't think of dentistry as anything beyond teeth, but neuromuscular conditions are an important aspect to good dental health. Only a neuromuscular dentist has the training and equipment to diagnose and treat TMJ. In fact, it's for this very reason that TMJ is so often misdiagnosed - doctors simply don't think to consider it as a possible cause of headaches.

"As a neuromuscular dentist, I keep the position of the temporomandibular joint in mind during all of my cosmetic dentistry procedures," says Dr. Dennis Ikuta, a neuromuscular dentist in Reedley, California. "Not only are neuromuscular dentists specially trained to diagnose and treat TMJ, but they are trained to prevent it from developing."

Neuromuscular dentists are singularly well equipped to treat TMJ. The most common, and generally most successful, treatment for TMJ is TENS. TENS is short for transcutaneous electrical neuromuscular stimulation. Gentle electrical current is run through your jaw muscles, which relaxes those muscles, stopping spasms and relieving pain.

Additional treatments include jaw re-alignment, often involving a custom-made mouthpiece the patient wears at night. In most cases, TMJ can be treated quite effectively with pain-free, non-invasive procedures.

Say Goodbye to Headaches

The results are life changing. Because TMJ is a chronic condition, TMJ sufferers often become somewhat accustomed to on-going pain. Once the TMJ is treated, however, that pain lifts. On-going TMJ-related aches can lead to depression, irritability, and general discomfort. TMJ treatment improves both the physical and the psychological aspects of TMJ.

If you suffer from on-going headaches, it's important to meet with a neuromuscular dentist. A neuromuscular dentist has additional training - above and beyond traditional dental school - and is the type of medical professional most qualified to diagnose, and subsequently treat, TMJ.

A headache can be more than just a headache. It can be a warning sign of TMJ. If you suffer from headaches, jaw pain, eyestrain, tingling in the arms and legs, or similar symptoms, it is absolutely worth your time to meet with a neuromuscular dentist. TMJ is a very common problem, yet one which the general public is largely unfamiliar with. Even physicians tend to overlook TMJ as a possible cause, since the symptoms of TMJ are so varied and vague. Only a neuromuscular dentist - typically - has the training and experience necessary to correct TMJ.

Headaches
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 

» More on Headaches
 



Share this article :
Click to see more related articles