Erie, Harborcreek and Millcreek, PA
Chronic headaches affect millions of Americans. If you’re one of them, you understand the pain and the struggle. You get painful headaches so often that you never have aspirin or Ibuprofen far from reach. You may think these headaches are caused by stress, but in many cases, chronic headaches have a specific cause that can be diagnosed and treated—providing you with relief. One condition that often causes headaches of this type is temporomandibular joint disorder. Let’s explore this relationship, and how your dentist Dr. Albert Starr at Laser Dentistry of Erie, can help.
Here’s how TMJ disorder can cause headaches
You have a temporomandibular joint on either side of your head, connecting your jaw to your skull. This small joint controls your jaw’s ability to open and close—which happens when you speak, eat, and chew. The proper operation of your jaws is a complex process that entails many working parts: the joints, bones, and soft tissues such as cartilage, tendons, and muscles. If the temporomandibular joint starts to malfunction, the consequences can be widespread and numerous. While the symptoms of TMJ disorder can vary significantly from person to person, one of the most frequently reported symptoms is pain. This pain may manifest in the jaws, the mouth, or even the neck and shoulders.
TMJ disorder often leads to headaches. These headaches may be caused due to excess strain being placed on the musculature of the orofacial system, or because the temporomandibular joint is located nearby your trigeminal nerve—which transmits more sensory information than any neural pathway in the body. If you develop TMJ disorder, the trigeminal nerve often becomes aggravated or compressed, sending impulses of pain to the brain that cause headaches. The trigeminal nerve also is involved in migraines or any variety of tension headaches. This is also why TMJ headaches may be misdiagnosed as migraines instead.
How can your dentist help?
Neuromuscular dentistry is a specialization of dental science focusing on the alignment of the bite and jaw. A dentist who goes through the rigorous education and training to be classified as a neuromuscular dentist has a special collection of knowledge and expertise that makes him or her the most-qualified medical professional to determine if you are suffering from TMJ disorder. Dr. Starr has studied the principles and techniques of neuromuscular dentistry at the prestigious Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies, and recently earned the distinction of LVI Fellow from that institution.
Dr. Starr uses his expertise to evaluate his patients for TMJ disorder in Erie. This evaluation may entail observing how your teeth fit together when your mouth is closed, or when you bite down. He also will examine the movement of your jaw joints when you chew and speak. We use the BioPak system, an invaluable tool in any diagnosis of TMJ disorder that is able to evaluate the function of the jaw and chewing muscles, as well as conducting electromyography scans that provide a comprehensive picture of all the hard and soft tissues in the jaws.
If TMJ disorder is identified, Laser Dentistry of Erie can provide relief through several methods of TMJ treatment. In most cases, we can provide relief through a mandibular advancement device, which re-positions and re-aligns your jaws to alleviate the stress being placed on the temporomandibular joint disorder. By treating the joint dysfunction itself, any issues caused by your TMJ disorder will be alleviated—including headaches.
Treating TMJ and headaches in Erie
You don’t have to live with the pain and inconvenience of chronic headaches. Let Dr. Starr provide you with a TMJ disorder evaluation today. Schedule your consultation with Laser Dentistry of Erie today by calling (814) 825-2615. We serve patients in the areas of Erie, Harborcreek, and Millcreek, PA.