The Dreaded TMJ Headache & Migraine: Learn More About Causes, Treatments, and Prevention.


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TMJ Causes

There are a few causes of TMJ migraines and headaches.  One of the most common is a jaw or bite imbalance.   Other common causes are injuries such as a fracture or dislocation or a medical condition such as rheumatoid arthritis. 

However, there can be other “triggers” outside of the cause which can exacerbate headaches or migraines.  The triggers can be things like stress, whether it is physical, emotional, dietary, chemical or hormonal, as examples.  The pain of TMJ headaches or migraines is typically from the jaw muscles that are under strain from the jaw imbalance.  

TMJ Dysfunction Treatment

 In order to treat the symptoms of TMJ, headaches and migraines as only a few of many potential symptoms, the jaw must be balanced and the muscles allowed to relax and heal.  A physiologic dentist can have day and night oral appliances fabricated in positions that maintain relaxed muscles and allow healing. 

Other important things to help with healing are good nutrition, certain dietary supplements, initially a softer diet, adjunctive therapies such as ultrasound or laser treatment, massage therapy, physiotherapy, trigger point injections, relaxation techniques and others.

TMJ Disorder Prevention

Prevention should start young; during a child’s infancy. In order to develop the jaws properly we need 3 key things:

  1. Nasal breathing
  2. Lip seal
  3. Proper tongue function

To achieve these things, babies ideally should be breastfed and checked for tongue and/or lip ties.  IF any impediments to feeding, these tissues should be released as soon as possible.  If bottles or soothers are used, they should be from “Nuk“, a brand that allows more ideal tongue function.  Nasal breathing should be day and night with lips closed. 

It is highly recommended to watch children during the day and at night to see if their mouths are closed and that they are not snoring (other than with the occasional cold).  If there is nasal congestion or snoring, check for enlarged tonsils and allergies.  The most common allergies to food are dairy, gluten and sugar.  Allergies should be addressed early in life and tonsils (and often adenoids) that are chronically enlarged should be removed to open the airway if the allergen can not be determined or reduced.  Chronic airway obstruction can lead not only to problems in jaw development but problems with cognitive development as well as obstructive sleep apnea. 

In conclusion:
TMJ is a condition that can cause serious pain and discomfort in the jaw, face, and head, as well as difficulties with speaking, eating and opening the mouth.  A TMJ pain care provider like Dr. Palmer might be able to help you diagnose and treat your TMJ dysfunction. Dr. Palmer has treated many people who suffer from TMJ Disorder successfully, but please be aware that there are no guarantees with any medical treatment.  Every case is different, due to your unique medical condition.

West Kelowna Dentist Dr. Shauna Palmer at Health & Beauty Dentistry:

“If you are experiencing symptoms of TMJ such as headaches, we will do everything possible to help determine the cause of your headaches and recommend an appropriate treatment plan to manage your pain and improve your overall quality of life.  Don’t wait. Waiting for treatment usually makes things worse, causing more pain which makes your life miserable. Please don’t do that to yourself.”

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