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Old man holding his ear

The reoccurrence of intense headaches is one of the symptoms of TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder, but it doesn’t always mean you’re suffering from the latter. What is TMJ disorder, and how can you differentiate between it and a typical headache? Read on to learn about the condition and the other warning signs that you need TMJ treatment in Carmel.

What Is TMJ Disorder?

The TMJ is the mechanism that controls the opening and closing of the jaw. Located in front of the ear lobe, it is a dynamic complex that allows forward-back, side-to-side, and up-down movements. Because of the joint’s versatility and the frequency that it’s used, it can become inflamed over time, which is called TMJ disorder.

When this happens, there can be uncomfortable pain and jaw malfunction.

The Differences Between TMJ Disorder and a Common Headache

Since reoccurring headaches aren’t exclusive to jaw problems, let’s take a look at the symptoms that are more specific to TMJ Disorder:

  • Frequent earaches
  • Jaw stiffness and immobility
  • Facial tenderness and soreness
  • Cracking or popping sounds when the jaw is moved

While TMJ disorder may cause the above symptoms, headaches accompanied by nausea, light sensitivity, and lethargy are usually the signs of different problems.

Tips for Temporary Relief

If you’re a person who normally chews gum, then it can become a painful experience when you have a TMJ disorder. An alternative is to use mints to freshen your breath.

Stress can also contribute majorly to TMJ disorder, so finding different coping mechanisms is vital to your wellness. You can incorporate such activities as meditation, yoga, exercise or taking long walks.

How TMJ Disorder Can Be Treated

One of the more effective ways to treat TMJ disorder is with a custom night guard, which is an oral appliance that comfortably fits into your mouth while you sleep. The lightweight device helps to reposition the mouth and prevent any teeth-grinding that could contribute to more jaw pain.

You’ll first need to visit a local dentist for an examination. Afterward, the professional will let you know about the various types of nightguards available.

Why It’s Important to Take Action

Recent studies show a possible connection between untreated TMJ disorder and the development of sleep apnea, insomnia, nightmares and cortisol imbalances. There is further evidence that poor sleep can lead to depression and anxiety because of the body’s natural clock being out of sync.

Some other prevalent issues that can arise are ear ringing (called tinnitus), vertigo (poor balance) and back pain. Therefore, this is not a condition to ignore and procrastinate about receiving care for.

The good news is when you reach out to a dentist in Carmel, you’ll be able to get the relief you desperately need so you can enjoy a pain-free and healthy life.

About the Author

Dr. David J. Kristoff earned his dental degree from The Indiana University School of Dentistry. He has since gone on to provide patients with top-notch dental care for over 30 years. To stay abreast of any new developments in dentistry, Dr. Kristoff maintains professional membership in such organizations as the Pierre Fauchard Society and the International College of Dentists. He treats TMJ disorder at his private practice, and he can be reached for more information through his website.