Jaw Pain, It’s Not All in Your Head
Jaw pain caused by TMJ disorder often goes undiagnosed, but leaving it untreated can lead to pain and other uncomfortable symptoms that can end up lasting for years, affecting one’s ability to function on a day-to-day basis. There are several treatments available for TMJ that can provide significant pain relief and allow the affected muscles and joints to function normally again; all you need to do is visit Koala® Center For Sleep & TMJ Disorders to start the journey to relief. Contact us for more information or book an appointment online. We have convenient locations across the U.S. in Bloomington IL, Peoria/Dunlap IL, Mishawaka IN, Kansas City MO, El Paso TX, and Wausau WI.
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While there are a number of oral conditions that lead to pain in the jaw, sometimes extending up to the side of the head, jaw pain and pain on one side of the head at the same time is a common symptom of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). TMJ leads to patients clenching the muscles that connect along the jaw and cheeks, and frequent tensing or clenching of these muscles causes pain that can spread up to the sides and top of the head, resembling a headache.
It can be difficult to distinguish the difference between a general headache and a headache caused by TMJ; often TMJ pain feels similarly to a tension headache, so there are a number of symptoms patients are encouraged to look out for that can help to diagnose the cause of the pain, including tightening and/or pain in the jaw or facial muscles, restricted movement of the jaw when opening and closing, and a small clicking noise when opening or closing the jaw.
If you are experiencing jaw pain and didn’t just undergo a significant blow to the jaw, there are many potential causes to the jaw that don’t involve injury, the most common cause of unexplained jaw pain being TMJ. Other possible causes for unexplained jaw pain include severe gum disease that has started to damage the jawbone, frequently grinding the teeth or clenching the jaw (often occurs during sleep so patients are unaware but wake up with a sore jaw), a toothache caused by a cavity or abscess, incoming wisdom teeth, and disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, sinusitis, or tetanus.
Since TMJ disorder causes headaches, it can easily be mistaken from other types of headaches, including migraines, tension headaches, or chronic cluster headaches. Other conditions that often resemble similar pain around the temples that is associated with TMJ include chronic sinus pain and sinus infections. The headaches experienced with TMJ disorder can be just as painful as a migraine, making it easily mistaken for a condition known as Trigeminal Neuralgia, which is when the trigeminal nerves are overworked, leading to migraines. While it can be normal for some patients to just suffer from chronic migraines or jaw pain, if it is a consistent or reoccurring pain, it is recommended that patients seek medical attention to make sure that the jaw pain or headaches are not being caused by a condition that is completely treatable but will continue to worsen without the proper medical interventions. Being aware of the specific symptoms that are being experienced and potential causes of the symptoms can help patients to narrow down what kind of doctor would be best suited to treat the pain.
If you are suffering from jaw pain, visiting a dentist will be the best option for treatment as the majority of potential causes of the pain are treated by dentists. Jaw pain that is caused by TMJ disorder will require treatment from a dentist who has specialized experience in treating the specific condition and can offer courses of treatment that will work to both provide pain relief as well as prevent pain from developing in the future. Many people suffer from TMJ and will just accept it as a new part of life, having the frequent headaches, restricted jaw movement, and clicking noise every time they open their mouths, but suffering from this pain and any other associated symptoms is completely unnecessary and can quickly start to affect the rest of your daily life and even your quality of sleep.