Migraines can be a truly debilitating experience, especially if you have them over and over throughout the month. If you suffer from chronic migraines, you’ve probably scoured the internet to find relief. But have you ever considered that your headaches might be linked to a condition called Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD)?
Continue reading to explore this potential connection and how addressing TMD might help alleviate your migraines.
What is TMD?
TMD is a condition that affects the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connecting your jawbone to your skull. This complex joint allows your jaw to work in three dimensions, allowing you to chew and speak effectively.
When the TMJ is strained, it can lead to a range of problems, including jaw pain, clicking sounds, and in some cases, chronic migraines.
TMD can manifest in several ways, from muscle tension around the jaw to structural issues within the joint itself. These problems often result in pain and discomfort, making everyday activities a challenge.
How is TMD Connected With Migraines?
The exact relationship between TMD and migraines isn’t completely understood, but there are several theories. One hypothesis is that the pain signals from your jaw and head converge in the brain through nerve endings called nociceptors, which can sometimes lead to migraines.
Studies have shown that people with TMD are up to three times more likely to experience chronic headaches, including migraines, compared to those without TMD. This suggests that there might be a connection between the two conditions.
While further research is needed to fully understand this link, addressing TMD has provided relief for some migraine sufferers.
How Can I Treat TMD?
If you think that your chronic migraines might be linked to TMD, it’s best to consult with a dentist first. They can perform a thorough exam to determine if you have TMD and recommend suitable treatment options.
Treatment for TMD can include various approaches, depending on the specific issues involved. Common strategies for managing TMD and, potentially, reducing migraine frequency include:
Lifestyle Modifications – Your dentist might suggest lifestyle changes, such as avoiding hard or chewy foods, applying heat or cold packs, and practicing relaxation techniques to reduce muscle tension.
Medications – Pain relievers, muscle relaxants, or anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed to alleviate TMD symptoms and help manage migraines.
Dental Appliances – In some cases, a customized oral splint or mouthguard can help reposition the jaw, reduce muscle strain, and minimize TMD-related pain and migraines.
Stress Management – Stress and anxiety can trigger TMD and make migraines worse. Learning stress management techniques can help with this.
Dental Work – Correcting dental issues that contribute to TMD, such as misaligned teeth, can sometimes alleviate symptoms and help manage the condition.
Talk to your dentist to determine the best course of action for your situation. Remember that addressing TMD might not only help alleviate jaw pain but also reduce the frequency and intensity of your migraines.
Living with chronic migraines can be incredibly challenging, but it’s important not to overlook potential contributing factors. If you’ve been battling persistent headaches, especially if you also experience jaw pain, don’t hesitate to seek professional treatment. Identifying and addressing TMD could be the missing piece in finding relief.
About the Author
Dr. Keane Fedosky is an expert in the field of dental sleep medicine and has been practicing for over 20 years. He received his dental doctorate from the Baylor College of Dentistry and has since worked tirelessly to improve his knowledge and skill through professional organizations like the American Board of Dental Sleep where Dr. Fedosky holds Diplomate status. To schedule an appointment at Sleep Rehab & TMJ Treatment, call (972) 753-3737 or visit the website to book online.