A Surprising Cause of Frequent Headaches

November 29, 2020
Avatar for Kelley MingusKelley Mingus

It’s safe to say we all suffer from the occasional headache. In fact, it is estimated that 75 percent of adults between the ages of 18 and 65 have gotten a headache in the past year. Headaches occur for many reasons, making it difficult to pinpoint the best way to treat them. From tension headaches to migraines and everything in between, there are seemingly more causes of headaches than there are actually types of headaches. But one headache cause may surprise you: your jaw. Yes, you read that right. Your jaw, or more specifically your temporomandibular joint could be causing headaches -including migraine headaches. Here’s how.

What is the temporomandibular joint?

The temporomandibular joint is the joint which connects your jaw bone to the rest of your skull.

How does it cause headache pain?

Sometimes, the temporomandibular joint becomes misaligned, causing the cartilage and bone at the jaw to wear away. This friction can cause many problems, including teeth grinding and jaw clenching, jaw soreness, and stiffness clicking or popping sounds when the jaw is opened and closed, tinnitus (or ringing of the ears), and of course, headaches.

The headache pain occurs because the muscles in the head and jaw become fatigued when the jaw is opened and closed. This can cause general headaches, back, and neck pain, but it can also cause migraine headaches without aura.

What you can do if you experience jaw pain and frequent headaches

If you are noticing jaw pain along with headaches, or any of the symptoms mentioned above either together or separately, you should consider being evaluated by Dr. Mingus for temporomandibular joint dysfunction (also known as TMJ dysfunction). Dr. Mingus uses the latest technology to determine whether your jaw is aligned properly. Once a diagnosis of TMJ dysfunction is made, treatment can begin.

How do you treat TMJ dysfunction?

Treating TMJ dysfunction is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Treatment is dependent on the individual case and can include a combination of several different types of treatment, including a custom orthotic, orthodontics, and even physical therapy. Dr. Mingus will determine your best treatment options during your evaluation.