Headaches are one of the most common nervous system disorders. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 50 percent of all adults have experienced one or more headaches within the last 12 months. In reality, the number may be much higher, as headaches are traditionally underestimated and frequently undiagnosed.

Many people simply suffer in silence, and do not seek medical attention unless the pain becomes debilitating – and even then, they don’t always find relief. There are several types of headaches, with various causes making misdiagnosis a common problem. You may not expect to find relief at a dentist’s office, but a surprising number of headaches are associated with teeth or, more commonly, jaws.

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Oral disease

We often think of toothaches as being confined to a single tooth, but the pain can spread. This is especially true if you have gum disease or other infection, as pockets of pus (abscesses), can form near the affected teeth. These problems often lead to facial pain near or around the tooth.

TMJ disorder

This is one of the most common causes of misdiagnosed or undiagnosed headaches. The TMJ (temporomandibular joint) is the medical name for the jaw joint. You have a TMJ on each side of your head, connecting your lower jaw to your skull. They are small, intricate joints with extremely powerful muscles. Misalignment of the jaw, clenching your teeth, jaw injury, arthritis, and other factors can affect the functionality of one or both TMJs. You might expect the resulting pain to be localized near the jaw. However, due to major nerves in the area, TMJ disorders are subject to referred pain, which may be felt far from the origin.

If you have a TMJ disorder, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Popping or grinding sounds in the jaw
  • Facial pain
  • Migraine-like headaches
  • Upper back or shoulder pain
  • Ringing of the ears or other hearing problems
  • Earaches
  • Pain in the jaws

Have you been suffering with chronic headaches? If so, relief could be as close as your Dolton dental office. Call Pleasant Dental® at (708) 576-1900 to schedule an evaluation.

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