There are dozens of headache types, and potentially hundreds of causes behind them. Tension headaches are one of the most common, but their symptoms are so similar to TMJ disorders (TMD) that many men and women are misdiagnosed. June is Headache and Migraine Awareness Month, and our dentist in Bernardsville wants you to know the difference between chronic tension headaches and TMD.
The Difference Between Tension and TMJ Headaches
Tension headaches are caused by tightening muscles in the head and neck. Triggers include eye strain, fatigue, stress, caffeine and many others. TMD is caused by dysfunction in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) such as jaw misalignment, dislocation, arthritis or inflammation. You have a TMJ on either side of your jaw, and these joints connect your jaw to your skull. TMD can be triggered by jaw injury, grinding or clenching your teeth, eating, talking, etc.
Head pain caused by TMD can be alleviated through various TMJ treatments, but chronic tension headaches may require diagnosis and treatment from a neurologist or headache specialist, depending on how recurrent and painful they are.
TMJ Disorder Symptoms Vs. Tension Headaches
The symptoms of TMD and tension headaches overlap, but there are distinct differences. Tension headaches don’t cause nausea or vomiting but a dull pain accompanied by pressure and tenderness in the forehead and scalp areas. TMJ head pain may involve a dull pain or mimic migraine symptoms such as a throbbing pain and dizziness. Head pain from TMD won’t respond to medication or treatments for regular tension-related headaches.
TMJ symptoms include:
- Clicking or popping jaw
- Ringing in the ears
- Facial swelling near the TMJ
- Ear pain
- Pain when talking, eating or yawning
If you’re experiencing persistent headaches, your TMJ could be to blame. Our neuromuscular dentist can help you find relief and develop a TMD treatment plan for you.
Schedule your neuromuscular dental exam in Bernardsville today by calling (908) 221-1188 or fill out the form located on this page. Aesthetic Dentistry of Bernardsville serves patients in Morristown, Basking Ridge, Mendham, Chester and nearby areas of New Jersey.