TMJ/TMD- Headaches and Facial Pain

WHAT IS TMJ/TMD?

TMD, commonly called TMJ, is a real condition caused by disturbances in the action of the jaw. Often jaw problems are only a symptom, secondary to a greater problem affection the body, much like a fever is secondary of the common flu. In the absence of an acute injury to the head or face, the primary cause of jaw problems can sometimes be an unidentified sleep breathing issue, Sleep Apnea or Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Proper diagnosis and emphasis on origin rather than symptoms is key to successfully treating the disorder.

Signs and Symptoms most notably include Jaw Clenching and Teeth Grinding, also known as Bruxism. THIS IS NOT NORMAL! Bruxism is a medical term for grinding or clenching of the teeth and is actually classified as a Sleep Movement Disorder. This is a hallmark sign of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). TMJ/TMD in Children and Adults has several side effects including but not limited to:

  • Headaches- Migraine, Tension and Cluster
  • Facial Neuralgia
  • Pain in the Jaw
  • Facial, Neck and/or Back Pain
  • Jaw Popping or Clicking
  • Restricted Opening
  • Catching or Locking of the Jaw
  • Pain when Chewing
  • Ear Pain or Ringing in the Ears

Although, TMD is not life threatening, it can affect quality of life. If left untreated the symptoms listed above typically get worse. To help restore quality of life, it is important to get the proper treatment. Dr. VanDyke and the TMJ Sleep Therapy Centre of Montana Team are dedicated to diagnosing, treating, and relieving pain caused by TMD.

HOW DO WE DIAGNOSE TMD?

Before an initial exam, you will fill out comprehensive forms which include a health questionnaire. These forms help Dr. VanDyke better understand and diagnose the underlying issues. Each Diagnosis and the Care which follows is uniquely designed FOR EACH INDIVIDUAL! Treatment may vary from patient to patient.


Head Aches and Facial Neuralgia

ARE MY HEADACHES CAUSED BY TMJ/TMD?

Any number of the TMJs supporting muscles, which are located underneath the jaw and in the cheeks, may be the source of your headaches and can be a symptom of TMD and/or sleep apnea. When clenching of the jaw and grinding of the teeth occurs, it can create jaw pain, in which, can actually travel to other places in the skull, causing headaches or migraines. You may also experience toothaches, earaches, neck, shoulder and/or back pain.

Headaches can be directly linked to sleep disorders. Morning headaches upon awakening can be a clear symptom of this. Sleep apnea occurs when the oxygen levels decrease due to irregular breathing caused by OSA (obstructive sleep apnea). Air is then trapped and becomes built up in the lungs and recycles to the bloodstream. When there is a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream, it can negatively affect the brain and cause sleep disordered headaches.
Sinuses and allergies can aggravate TMJ symptoms. Sinus congestion can put pressure on the facial structure and TMJ which can sometimes cause mouth breathing. Mouth breathing can lead to potential jaw issues and soreness.

At the TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centre of Montana, we perform a complete evaluation to determine the root cause of our patients’ headaches.

WHAT IS FACIAL NEURALGIA?

Trigeminal Neuralgia is a chronic pain condition that affects the trigeminal nerve, which carries sensation from your face to your brain. If you have Trigeminal Neuralgia, even mild stimulation of your face — such as from brushing your teeth, washing your face, shaving, etc. Even a light breeze — may trigger a jolt of excruciating pain. Neuralgia is described as an electrical shock type sensation, burning, stabbing, or shooting pain in the cheek, face, jaw, gums or neck area. Pain can last as little as a few seconds to several minutes. Attacks of the pain can happen several times daily or weekly, and may be followed by periods of remission with no pain.

To learn about trigeminal neuralgia, it helps to know a little about how the affected nerves are laid out.

In your head you have 12 pairs of what are called cranial nerves. The trigeminal nerves are among these pairs, and they let you feel sensations in your face. One nerve runs down each side of your head.

Each trigeminal nerve splits into three branches, controlling the feeling for different parts of your face. They are:

  • Ophthalmic Branch- It controls your eye, upper eyelid, and forehead.
  • Maxillary Branch- This affects your lower eyelid, cheek, nostril, upper lip, and upper gum.
  • Mandibular Branch- It runs your jaw, lower lip, lower gum, and some muscles you use for chewing.

The disorder can affect any of the three nerve branches, meaning you could feel pain from your forehead to your jaw or down your neck. Usually, you’ll feel pain on only one side of your face. Some people feel it on both sides, in which case, it is called Bilateral Trigeminal Neuralgia. The pain typically feels as though it came out of nowhere. Most people with this condition assume it is from an infected or abscessed tooth, while actually it is more likely a direct effect from a TMJ/TMD issue which is likely tied to Sleep Apnea/Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

Sudden and intense bouts of pain are considered to be signs of “Classic” Trigeminal Neuralgia. If your pain is less intense but constant — more of an aching, burning sensation — you might have what’s known as “Atypical” Trigeminal Neuralgia.

TMJ/TMD Pain Quiz

ARE MY HEADACHES CAUSED BY TMJ/TMD?











If more than 4 of your answers were Often, Frequently, Very Frequently, or Yes, we recommend you call our office at (406)952-0154. Please fill out the form below to send a copy of this quiz to us for further help.

TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centre of San Diego

The Independent Doctors and Health Providers of Montana