One of the most common complaints people experience is a headache. And when people experience headaches, they can experience significant discomfort. This can then lead to a reduction in productivity and lost work time. The downside is that headaches can be hard to treat because they can have many different causes. 

Here are some clues to look out for to determine if TMD is the culprit for your headache pain.

Headaches occur after jaw activity

One of the most important clues that link headaches with TMD is the fact that intense jaw activity sets off your headaches. This can include chewing tough foods, opening your mouth wide, talking for long periods of time, and other activities that put your jaw muscles to the test.

Clenching or grinding your teeth

A type of jaw activity that’s worth singling out is teeth clenching or bruxism. Bruxism is a parafunction–something you’re doing with your jaw that you’re not supposed to do–that is often associated with TMJ and TMJ-related headaches. 

Bruxism can occur during the day or night, so it may be responsible for those morning headaches you get. This might also be related to sleep apnea.

Jaw pain, clicking or restricted movement

Temporomandibular joint disorders often manifest in the jaw first or at the same time as they cause symptoms elsewhere. If you experience jaw pain , that’s a sign you have TMJ that may be causing your headaches. 

Jaw sounds like clicking or popping occur because the cushioning disk in the TMJ is out of place, but can slip back into place–that causes the sound. Restricted jaw movement occurs when the disk won’t slip back in place, but rather interferes with the motion of your jaw.

Test to see if TMD is the culprit

While the pencil test is not foolproof, it can give you a hint that TMJ might be contributing to your headaches. Next time you have a headache, gently hold a pencil between your teeth. If it changes the pain you’re feeling–either lessening it or increasing it–then it’s likely that TMJ is contributing to your headaches.

Unfortunately, sometimes we can only track down the causes of headaches through a process of elimination. If your doctor is treating you for the supposed cause of your headaches but you aren’t experiencing results, then it’s likely that there’s a true cause that hasn’t been tracked down yet.

Contact Dr. Mayoor Patel at Craniofacial Pain & Dental Sleep Center of Georgia for more information on TMD and how it might be causing your headaches.