Pain doesn’t happen randomly or because of bad luck; there’s a cause and effect to almost everything in the human body, says Fred Abeles, DDS. And for many, TMJ headaches aren’t going away because people try to mask the pain with medication rather than correct the underlying cause.
What is TMJ?
The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is the place at the front of the ear where the lower jaw and the temporal bone on the side of the head meet.
5 Signs Your Headache May Be Caused by TMJ
How do you know if your headache is caused by TMJ? Dr. Abeles says these are some of the warning signs.
1. Your jaw clicks or pops. Any joint in your body should work silently and seamlessly. If your jaw clicks or pops when you open or close it, it?s a clear sign that the lower half of the joint is not in the proper position. Even if the popping and clicking don?t produce pain, the muscles that have to support and stabilize the joint become fatigued and will produce pain.
2. Your bite feels off. The TMJ is the only joint in the human body that has 28 teeth stuck between the opening and closing motion of the joint?which complicates things. The TMJ’s position is dictated by where our teeth come together in our bite. So if your bite feels off or your teeth don’t fit together well, there’s a good chance your TMJ is off, too.
3. You have pain around your forehead, temples, back of head, or radiating down your neck. Most pain comes from muscle; if your muscles are not functioning well because of fatigue from supporting your TMJ or surrounding facial muscles in an improper position, they produce pain.
4. You have forward head posture. Our heads are supposed to be centered over our shoulders. If yours is in front of your shoulders when you are upright, you have “forward head posture.” That relates to your bite and your airway. The farther forward your head is off the center axis, the more strain it places on neck muscles and vertebrae.
5. You snore. Snoring is a red flag that respiration during sleep is disturbed. Several factors can lead to snoring, but one of the most important is the position of the lower jaw; if your lower jaw is a little too far back, then the tongue is farther back as well.