Wake up With a Headache? You Could Have TMJ Disorder

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Wake up With a Headache? You Could Have TMJ Disorder

Roughly 1 in of every 13 peoples wake up with morning headaches, according to data from the Sleep Foundation. Not exactly a great way to start your day. 

While it may be tempting to treat your headache with a couple of aspirin so you can get on with your day, unless you identify the cause of those headaches, it’s almost certain they’ll keep happening. Worse, chronic morning headaches are often the sign of an underlying medical problem, and one of the most common causes is dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).

A leading dentist in Toledo, Ohio, Timothy Tomase, DDS, offers patient-centered, state-of-the-art care for temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), restoring normal jaw function and relieving morning headaches and other uncomfortable symptoms. If you have morning headaches, here’s what you need to know about TMD and its treatment.

The basics of TMD

The temporomandibular joints are located just under each ear, where your lower law meets the bottom “edge” of your skull. Inside the joint is a tiny disc that acts like a cushion and “shock absorber” to protect your jaw when you open and close your mouth.

Sometimes, one or both joints becomes inflamed and irritated, maybe from an underlying disease like arthritis, chronic teeth grinding (called bruxism), a bite imbalance, age-related joint changes, or another cause. When that happens, you can wind up with painful symptoms, including morning headaches.

TMD symptoms: headaches and more

Headaches are especially common among people who grind or clench their teeth during sleep. But TMD can cause plenty of other uncomfortable symptoms, too, like:

  • Jaw pain or fatigue
  • Facial pain
  • Earaches
  • Pain in your neck
  • Clicking or popping noises in your jaw
  • “Sticking” sensations when you open your mouth or chew

Symptoms may be mild at first, becoming worse the longer treatment is delayed.

Treating TMJ disorder

When it comes to treating TMJ disorder, the goal is to restore normal jaw function and balance, so strain on the joints is relieved. To achieve that goal, Dr. Tomase offers several options, based on the underlying cause of your TMD and its symptoms.

If your bite is “out of balance” because of missing teeth or worn or chipped teeth, simple repairs like crowns or bridges may be all it takes to rebalance your bite and support normal jaw health. For TMJ associated with misaligned teeth, Invisalign® orthodontic treatment can help straighten your teeth and realign your jaws.

Many people with TMJ — including people who have a nighttime grinding or clenching habit — benefit from a custom night guard. A night guard cushions your tooth surfaces while gently shifting your jaw into a more comfortable position. Each guard is custom-made for a perfect, comfortable fit that won’t interfere with a good night’s sleep. Night guards are also a good choice for people who have arthritis in their jaws.

In addition to a night guard, Dr. Tomase may recommend lifestyle changes, like simple jaw exercises, or dietary changes, like avoiding foods that could irritate or tire your jaw.

Relieve your TMJ headaches

If you have morning headaches or any other symptoms of TMJ, seeking care right away is the key to relieving those symptoms and preventing further damage. To learn how the team at Tomase Dental Care can help, book an appointment online or over the phone with Dr. Tomase today.