Is TMJ Causing Your Headaches

Because there are many potential causes, they might not be related to TMJ at all. Consider the following factors in deciding if TMJ is causing your headaches:

  • Are your headaches associated with other TMJ symptoms?
  • Are they worse after chewing tough food or talking a lot?
  • Do they start after stress-related jaw clenching?
  • Do you wake up with them? (Note: this also could be related to sleep apnea.)

If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, then it’s likely TMJ is contributing to your headaches, if not the primary cause.

young woman suffering from a headache, causing her to close her eyes

How TMJ Causes Tension Headaches

In TMJ, your jaw system isn’t working properly. This can be because one or both of the jaw joints (temporomandibular joints) are out of place. It may be because your teeth aren’t positioned so they let your jaw get into a proper, relaxed position. It may be because you’ve developed unhealthy chewing patterns due to some previous injury or pain. There are many potential causes of TMJ.

When your jaw system isn’t working properly, the jaw muscles aren’t efficient. They often end up working harder than they need to. This can lead to muscle tension and pain. Not only do the jaw muscles extend most of the way up the side of your head (the temporal muscle, for example, attaches in the depression of the skull behind the eyes), but they partner with muscles in the head and neck that help support the head and control facial expressions. When the jaw muscles are tense, their partner muscles, are, too, leading to tension pain in the head and neck.

TMJ and Other Types of Headaches

TMJ can also cause other types of headaches. Sometimes, you may get what is known as a referred pain headache. In this type, your brain mistakes pain in one part of your body as coming from another part. This is common, and it’s the reason why, for example, people having a heart attack might think the pain is coming from their left arm or their jaw. In the same way, you might be experiencing jaw pain, but think it’s a headache.

Migraines are complex headaches with many different potential causes, but TMJ can also serve as a migraine trigger. You can learn how TMJ causes migraines. TMJ treatment can relax your jaw muscles, reducing the frequency and severity of your headaches. If you think that TMJ might be responsible, please call our Tulsa office at (918) 528-3330 or email élan by Dr. Meghan Hodges today for an appointment.