Healthy Living

What is Causing Your Headaches? Could it be TMJ?


Did you know that 45 million Americans suffer from headaches? Many people do not realize that there is often a connection between the facial muscles used in chewing and chronic, debilitating headaches as well as other symptoms such as tinnitus (ringing in the ears), vertigo and dizziness and pain in the face, ears and neck.

What is TMJ? Many people have heard, usually from a health care provider, that they have a condition called “TMJ”. TMJ is an abbreviated form of the name of each jaw joint—the Temporomandibular Joint. In other words, everyone has TMJ—in fact, we have two, one on each side of our face. When someone says you have TMJ, what they mean is that there is a problem with the healthy balance of the teeth and bite, muscles, bones, joints, and nerves involved in chewing.

How to Treat TMJ. Historically, dentist-directed therapy has been very diverse, ranging from medication to surgery, and from splinting to adjusting the teeth. In addition, several other specialties are also involved in treating jaw problems, including integrative medicine practitioners, chiropractors, and physical therapists. This illustrates how far reaching and confusing it is to get help for TMJ problems. While these various approaches often offer some degree of relief, many people continue to suffer from the devastating effects of jaw pain. So, here are some suggestions as you seek relief working with a professional:

  1. Provide a thorough history. It is important to understand if there has been trauma or other factors in the past.
  2. Request an exam to rule out that the problem is related to an underlying cause, such as arthritis, a wisdom tooth, or an infection.
  3. If your pain is related to the jaw itself, your healthcare professional needs to determine if it is from the joint or from the muscles, nerves and connective tissue of the head and/or neck. This type of examination involves evaluating the muscles that you chew with and that control the position of your head as well as evaluating the range of motion of the jaw and the head and neck. When muscles and nerves are inflamed, it often shows up as an inability to move normally. Treatment then is related to the cause and must be determined on an individual basis.Discuss this with your dentist, or feel free to call our office if you do not have someone that can help.

Healthy Living Dr Koch Headshotsuit2006J. Paul Koch, D.M.D.

Koch Aesthetic Dentistry

2311 Highland Ave., Suite 323, 35205








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