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FAQs on Clicking Jaw, Headaches and Pain

My last post on Headaches generated some questions. It seems that quite a few people suffer from them on a regular basis. So I thought I’d list some of the most frequently asked questions regarding Headaches.

Columbia Dentist TMJ Headaches

Q: What cause most headaches?
A: Did you know that 80-90% of headaches are related to muscle tension and that the muscles in your forehead are related to your bite?

Q: Does my jaw pain come from jaw muscles, facial nerves or the jaw joint (TMJ)?
A: Problems with the jaw joints, muscles, or nerves can all cause pain. Long-lasting jaw pain may indicate a problem. The TMJ is a complex system that lets us talk, chew, and even yawn. If any part of the system isn’t working right, you can feel pain.

Q: How do I know if I have TMD?
A: Pain is the most common symptom, but you also may have painful clicking, popping, or grating when closing or opening your mouth. Sometimes the jaw may get stuck open or closed, or you may not be able to open your mouth very wide. Other symptoms may include headaches, jaw muscle stiffness, face swelling, and neck pain. Many other conditions — including sinus problems, toothaches, and gum disease — have some of the same symptoms as TMD.

Q: Can chewing gum help relieve jaw pain?
A: No. Chewing gum doesn’t make jaw pain better. It actually can hurt your jaw joint because when you chew, you tense your jaw muscles.

Q: What is the main cause of TMD?
A: For most TMD problems, there is no clear cause. It may be related to an injury to the jaw, or to rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis in the jaw joint. Stress and teeth grinding also may affect jaw pain; however, the exact role of stress is still unclear.

Q: Who is more likely to get TMD, men or women?
A: Women. More than 10 million Americans may have TMD, including about four times as many women as men. Researchers are trying to find out if there’s a connection between TMD and female hormones. Who is the most likely to get TMD…Young women between 20 and 40.

Q: Will I need surgery to treat my TMD?
A: Surgery is usually a last resort. First, we try non-invasive treatments such as a mouth guard to keep you from grinding your teeth. We can also try anti-inflammatory medicines, muscle relaxants or pain medications

Q: What can I do at home to help my TMD?
A: In many cases, you can ease jaw pain simply by resting the jaw joint. Try switching to a softer diet — like yogurt, mashed potatoes, soup, and scrambled eggs. Avoid hard foods and chewing gum. For pain, try over-the-counter pain relievers, but this is not recommended as a long term solution. Call your dentist or health care provider if your symptoms don’t get better.

Q: Is there anything else I can do?
A: Here’s another reason to stand up straight. Poor posture can make you strain your jaw and neck muscles, particularly if you slouch or hunch over. Staring at a computer screen may cause you to thrust your chin closer to the screen. That may strain your jaw joint and your jaw and neck muscles. One study found that when people with TMD did posture exercises, their symptoms got better.

Many headaches are the result of dental problems that can be corrected. If you experience migraines, clicking jaw, pain behind your eyes, jaw pain, jaw muscle pain or common headaches, it may be dentally related. Headaches are the #1 complaint of TMJ disorder sufferers, yet patients seldom think of consulting a dentist about headaches.

If you are experiencing jaw problems and you have any questions about it please give us a call at the office.