People don’t generally think of a dentist as the healthcare professional to see for recurring headaches or migraine pain, yet dentists can play a role in diagnosing and even treating your condition. That’s because quite often, recurring pain that is felt in the area of the temples on the sides of the head is actually caused by unconscious habits of clenching and/or grinding the teeth. These habits, which often manifest during sleep, put tremendous pressure on the muscles that work your jaw joint, also called the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).(281) 559-7019
The fan-shaped temporalis muscles on either side of your head above the temples are involved in jaw movement. You can feel them working if you put your fingertips on your temples while clenching your jaw. When temporalis muscles spasm from clenching, headache and migraine symptoms occur. Headaches and migraines don’t exclusively result from TMJ problems. But because there is an established link between them, a diagnosis is required.
The first thing you need is a thorough oral exam to determine if there is evidence of clenching or grinding. Also known as “bruxing” habit or TMD. If so, there are things you can do for immediate and long-term relief. Sometimes, eating softer foods can reduce stress on the muscles and joints. Ice and moist heat may help relieve soreness and inflammation. Gentle stretching exercises, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen, and muscle relaxants also help.
Finally, a custom-made night guard to wear when you sleep might be recommended. This plastic oral appliance fits over the teeth. Ultimately, it controls or eliminates clenching and grinding because it reduces pressure on the jaw muscles and joints. Some users have reported that their headaches or even migraines are less frequent and/or less intense.
Will a nightguard or other TMD therapy relieve your headaches and migraine pain? It depends on the source of the problem. But living with chronic headaches or facial pain is no fun — so don’t delay scheduling an exam and a consultation.
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