TMJ-TMD and Headache Therapy

A temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD, can involve the muscles or nerves of these joints and can result in pain in the jaw, face, neck, and head. If you have frequent tension headaches, you may be surprised to learn that your TMJ might be the culprit.


The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is one of the most complicated joints in the human body. The TMJ on either side of your head is what allows you to eat and talk, and you use them any time you move your jaw.

Pain in your jaw joint and/or chewing muscles are the most common symptoms of TMD. It’s typically a dull ache in the joint and nearby areas such as the ears, neck, and shoulders.

It can be difficult to determine if you have a TMD, as many of the symptoms can have other causes. This is why it is best to seek help from a professional if you suspect your jaw joint may be causing your pain or headaches.

Common Symptoms of a Temporomandibular Joint Disorder


Pain or soreness in your jaw that is prevalent late morning and late afternoon


Jaw pain when eating


Frequent tension headaches


Difficulty opening and closing your mouth or difficulty chewing


Stiffness in your jaw when talking or eating


An earache that isn't the result of an ear infection


Sensitive teeth when you have no dental problems that are causing them


Most treatments for TMJ disorders are fairly conservative and don’t require surgery. They typically involve splints or mouthguards in less severe cases. Dental appliances like a splint can help reduce the stress on your jaw muscle and help improve your bite.

In the case that the cause of the problem is the way your teeth fit together, Dr. Cave may adjust your bite. This is known as occlusal equilibration. This typically involves minor reshaping of your teeth to remove anything that may be preventing your jaw from closing naturally.

Pain Relief at Home

While not treatments for the condition itself, you can get pain relief from some of the following:

  • Alternate applying heat and cold packs to the site for 10-minute intervals
  • Avoiding large jaw movements, or opening your jaw too wide or for too long
  • Changing your diet to avoid hard or chewy foods
  • Physical therapy or medications may be suggested based on your circumstances
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