Headaches can be alarming. Especially if they occur frequently. Often times our thoughts immediately go to “brain tumor” or some other brain malfunction. Although that is certainly a possibility, it may be your temporomandibular joint that is causing the pain. The TM joints are made up of the temporal bone of the skull (T) and the mandible (M), the lower jaw. The joint (J) they form is the Temporomandibular Joint which connects the lower jaw to the skull. These joints are located in front of the ears and allow the jaw to open and close, move side to side, forward and backward. Unlike other joints of the body, these joints move in unison. When one or both are not functioning properly, it is referred to as dysfunction.
Most Common Complaint
The most common complaint from patients suffering from TMD is headache. Many migraines can actually be attributed to TMD as well. The source of the pain is actually head and neck muscles. These muscles “refer” pain to the head, in the form of a headache, when they are malfunctioning or in spasm. Referred pain originates in a part of the body that differs from the area where it is actually felt. Referred pain can also be behind the eyes and in the teeth.
Effects of Decreased Serotonin
Lack of serotonin can also cause headaches. Serotonin is a chemical in our bodies that is called a neuro-transmitter. Decreased serotonin also influences estrogen levels. Males will tend to have poor sleep, fatigue, irritability and depression. Females will experience decreased estrogen levels, but they may begin to have irregular periods and hormonal related problems appearing as though they are dealing with hormone issues.
Accurate Diagnosis is Key
Dr. Pribyl is qualified to accurately diagnose your headache to determine if it could be a TMD issue. A consultation appointment includes a discussion of your symptoms, a clinical exam and a bite analysis. Further x-rays and testing may be in order depending on the results of the first consultation. Treatment may include wearing an acrylic appliance—a mandibular repositioning device—that is custom made for you that fits over your upper and/or lower teeth.
Seeking treatment for TMD is the best step you can take. Without it, the problem can worsen and become debilitating. If left untreated, arthritis can develop in the joint, symptoms can become more severe and pain can worsen.
Break Free of this Cycle of Pain
No two TMD cases are alike due to many factors like stress, posture, bite position, nutrition and damage to the jaw joint. As a TMD dentist, Dr. Pribyl works with physical therapists, chiropractors and other health professionals to achieve the results his patients need to break free of this cycle of pain. Dr. Pribyl is concerned first with eliminating pain and second, with restoring normal function. Call our office to schedule a consultation appointment at 816-795-1000.