Sinus Headache or TMJ Migraine: How to tell the difference

Sinus Headache or TMJ Migraine: How to tell the difference

We’ve all had bad headaches from time to time. The pain can be so intense that you can’t seem to imagine anything worse.

And then you have a migraine episode that seems to take the pain to the next level. In addition to the pounding headache, your cheeks and teeth seem to ache, too.

Unfortunately, some people have headaches like this on a regular basis. They’ve tried to treat it with over-the-counter remedies, but these can just be Band-Aid solutions.

tmj-disorder-jaw-pain-relief-tom-meyer-dentist-des-plaines-chicagoThe reason for this is because painkillers aren’t treating the main source of the problem – which could be structural or mechanical.

The above symptoms – the pounding head, achy teeth, and tender cheeks – aren’t signs of a typical headache. They could be signs of a sinus headache or a TMJ migraine.

In order to successfully treat the problem, we have to identify the root cause. First we need to discern the difference between these types of head pain.

Sinus Headache vs. TMJ Migraine: Which one do you have?

Many patients with TMJ disorder, short for temporomandibular joint disorder or simply TMD, experience pain on a regular basis. The pain can be chronic and debilitating.

Some might point to this as the difference between a sinus headache and a TMJ migraine. That’s not necessarily the case though.

Sinus headaches aren’t limited to when you have a cold or sinus infection. The sinus inflammation and congestion of allergies often lead to regular headaches.

That’s why it can be so confusing for people to identify what kind of headache they’re dealing with.

Let’s take a moment to take a more in-depth look at the symptoms caused by TMJ pain versus sinus pain.

Sinus headache symptoms

  • Pain in the cheeks, forehead, and brow
  • feeling of pressure or fullness along the cheeks, forehead, nose, and brow
  • Stuffy, congested nose (a runny nose may or may not be present)
  • Your upper teeth ache
  • The pain gets worse if you lay down or lean forward
  • Fatigue

TMJ headache and migraine symptoms

  • Pain in the jaw joints, cheeks, forehead, back of the head, and/or neck
  • Tight facial muscles, particularly those of the cheeks and jaw
  • Restricted movement of your jaw – you can’t open your mouth very wide or it locks
  • Muscle spasms in your jaw or cheeks
  • Eye pain
  • Ear pain and/or ringing in your ears
  • There’s a clicking noise in your jaw joint(s)
  • Your teeth don’t always seem to fit together properly

Are there similarities between the two types of headaches? Absolutely, but upon further investigation, you can start to notice some differences.

Once you know what kind of headache you’re dealing with – it’s much easier to treat.

We believe you shouldn’t have to suffer with chronic headaches

When you have a headache due to allergies, a cold, or a sinus infection, it’s best to talk to your physician. They can prescribe antibiotics for an infection and offer suggestions for dealing with your cold symptoms.

Your doctor can also prescribe an oral allergy medication, nasal spray, or allergy shots.

And what about the patients who struggle with migraines or headaches caused by a TMJ disorder?

They should see a TMJ dentist.

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As a neuromuscular/TMJ dentist practicing in Chicago and Mount Prospect, my family dental practice offers  a variety of treatment options for patients with headaches.

For instance, I might suggest orthodontic treatment to a patient who has a misaligned bite. When their bite is out of alignment, it puts strain on the muscles of the jaw, head, and neck. That, in turn, causes pain.

Other people find relief with orthotic devices. We even have the option to perform treatments that stimulate and relax the jaw and facial muscles.

I also make it a point to show patients what they can do at home to reduce their symptoms.

See a TMJ dentist if you suspect you suffer from TMJ migraines

A physician can help if you have certain types of headaches and migraines. However, you should see a neuromuscular dentist if you want to treat a TMJ migraine.

In many cases, I’m doctor number four or even doctor number eight in a patient’s journey of finding relief. I often hear how I am the unexpected specialist for their migraine or headache because I am a dentist.

Neuromuscular dentists have extensive knowledge of head and neck anatomy, and of what makes the teeth, jaw joint, and muscles work in harmony.

We focus on treating patients with TMJ and obstructive sleep apnea. Many of us  do so while also offering family and cosmetic dental care. We have invested our resources into learning even more about how to successfully treat TMJ disorder from an interesting and valuable angle: the teeth.

When a patient with TMJ migraine of headache comes into my practice, I discuss all of their symptoms and do a thorough exam.

After studying the patient’s case, I will then develop a treatment plan that will fit their needs the best. My ultimate goal is to tackle the underlying cause of their condition, not just their symptoms.

If you have chronic headaches, don’t hesitate to see a TMJ dentist. It may very well be the solution you’ve been looking for!

Dr.Thomas Meyer, DDS, MICCMO – Dentist Mount Prospect


TMJ Tinnitus: Is Your “Bad Bite” the Cause of Your Ear Ringing and Pain?

TMJ Tinnitus: Is Your “Bad Bite” the Cause of Your Ear Ringing and Pain?

Do you suffer from tinnitus or constant ear pain? Have you been to your doctor for your pain and ringing but still haven’t found a solution?

The reason for this may be because the issue is not solely medical – it is also dental. You could be experiencing a condition called Temporomandibular disorder or TMJ Disorder for short. What can cause TMJ disorder? A malocclusion or a “bad bite.”

TMJ disorder is often hard to diagnose. It is quite common for TMJ sufferers to go to their dentist when they haven’t been able to get a proper diagnosis from their own physician.

How is it that a jaw joint issue can affect the ears?
And is there anything we can do to stop the ringing and the pain? 

TMJ Tinnitus: How a misaligned jaw can result in ear ringing and pain

Your tinnitus is possibly a symptom of a larger problem – namely, TMJ Disorder. But the reality is that even this disorder is a symptom.

The cause of TMJ issues is misalignment of the teeth. Misalignment puts the bones, muscles, joints, and tendons of the head and neck out of alignment as well.



This causes a lot of strain on the muscles, including those of the ear. The ear muscles – the tensor tympani and tensor levi palatine – react to facial muscle tension. The reason for this is because they are both connected to the trigeminal nerve.

The result: ear pain and ringing.

Jaw pain can contribute to problems throughout the body

If you thought TMJ disorder only affects the head and neck – think again.

It affects the entire body.

If you think about it, the way our body is connected from our head to our toes is a beautiful thing. It allows for harmony and fluidity of movement. But the slightest imbalance in your jaws can result in tinnitus, headaches, dizziness, nausea, and jaw pain. 

We Believe… Every Patient Deserves to Find Relief – What a TMJ Dentist Can Do For You

If you experience TMJ tinnitus, jaw pain, migraines, or clicking and popping of your jaw joint, you need to come to my office.

woman with ear ringingWithout jaw joint and tinnitus treatment, your symptoms are likely to get worse down the road. As your symptoms progress, the ringing and ear pain can get more intense. What is now an occasional ear ringing and headache can easily turn into being in constant pain down the road.

It is vital to get the treatment you need to get relief from your symptoms of today, as well as the issues that could arise tomorrow.

One of the common causes of TMJ disorder and tinnitus is a misaligned bite. I have multiple ways of helping you find relief.

  • Orthodontics – This is the ultimate TMJ Disorder treatment. If your bite is to blame, we need to fix it. And that is what braces will help us to do.
  • TENS Machine – Tight muscles can be a major source of jaw pain. This is a gentle electronic stimulation of the jaw muscles that assists them in releasing and relaxing more fully.
  • Custom-Fit Orthotic – This device aligns the jaw so that it’s in a position that’s natural and comfortable. We use a K7 mapping tool to analyze your jaw, which helps us to properly design the orthotic.
  • Another solution for more severe TMJ pain is a full mouth reconstruction – where we rebuild and reshape the teeth to allow for a better bite, relieving the muscles and joints in the area.

I’ve worked with multiple patients who experience painful symptoms and continue to educate myself to help them. My goal is to always stay current with treatment techniques and technology. Doing so provides me with some amazing tools that help me provide symptom relief to my patients.

I’ve worked with multiple patients who experience painful symptoms and continue to educate myself to help them. My goal is to always stay current with treatment techniques and technology. Doing so provides me with some amazing tools that help me provide symptom relief to my patients.


Don’t Put Tinnitus Treatment Off Any Longer

You may think that ear ringing or occasional ear pain is just a simple annoyance. But that’s really not true – not if you look at your symptoms as part of a bigger concern that’s happening to your body…

TMJ patients with ringing in their ears often experience pain of one sort or another. They may have earaches, migraines, or shoulder tension. And none of that falls under the category of “simply annoying.”

These symptoms of TMJ disorder can affect your daily life. Even if you don’t have any painful symptoms now, that doesn’t mean you won’t get them in the future.

Save yourself a lot of pain and frustration by getting treatment from my Mount Prospect dentist office. We’ll create a TMJ treatment plan that will provide you with relief and prevent further damage down the road.

Do you think you might have TMJ Disorder? Here at the Meyer Dental Group we believe that TMJ sufferers should get a proper diagnosis from their a dentist. Book a TMJ consultation or fill out my free TMJ Pain Questionnaire. You’ll get a response with my recommendations for treatment and relief.

Dr. Tom Meyer DDS – TMJ Chicago dentist, dentist Mount Prospect

What causes TMJ Headaches and Migraines?

What causes TMJ Headaches and Migraines?

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What causes TMJ headaches and migraines?

One of the most painful headache types is the ‘TMJ Migraine Headache’. These migraines may cause ‘Auras’ that are a sense of an impending migraine coming, affect vision, cause nausea, photosensitivity and severe pain. TMJ headaches and migraines are often related to a malocclusion (a bad or imbalanced bite) and TMJ treatments can effectively prevent TMJ migraine headaches from occurring. Common migraines are now understood to be the result of an increase in blood pressure or volume within the lining of the brain called the Dura Mater.

TMJ (Temporo Mandibular Joint) Tension headaches and migraines can also be the direct result of muscle knots in the temple area on the side of your head. This muscle, the Temporalis muscle, can become tired and often ‘cramps up’ while helping close the lower teeth to meet the upper teeth. Over-exertion of the Temporalis muscle is a direct result of a malocclusion, or in layman’s terms a bad or imbalanced bite.

TMJ migraines and headaches are often ‘referred’ pain

When your Temporalis muscles are relentlessly strained or squeezed, it can result in tension headaches. Other muscles can create other types of headaches. A neck muscle called the ‘trapezius’ can pinch nerves at the back of the head and cause a “sinus headache” behind the eye. It feels like a sharp pain behind the eye or a pressure behind the eye.

Many people think this is a sinus headache but in fact is referred muscle and nerve pain from the back of the skull. This referred pain may also cause a headache on the very top of your skull or on the side of your head above your ears.

Where is my TMJ?

The TMJ is the temporomandibular joint, located just in front of the ears on either side of the head. These joints are the hinges upon which your jaw moves when chewing and talking. The TMJ is considered the most complicated joint in the body because it can rotate up and down as well as slide, which is known as translation.

Dental malocclusion and muscle imbalances, strain from tooth clenching and grinding all affect the workings (physiology) of your body. Bringing balance back into the body helps you fight the painful occurrence of both TMJ Tension Headaches and Migraines.

Treatment of TMJ migraines and headaches

A NUCCA Chiropractor can help align the head and neck and improve the blood flow. This could affect the occurrence of TMJ migraines and headaches.

A NUCCA Chiropractor can help align the head and neck and improve the blood flow. This could affect the occurrence of TMJ migraines and headaches.

Treatment is usually started with removable orthotics and definitive changes are only made after successful initial treatment: The use of ultra low frequency TENS allows accurate evaluation of the effect of relaxed muscles on dental orthotics.

If you suffer from TMJ headaches or migraines, a neuromuscular dentist (Des Plaines, Mount Prospect, Arlington Heights IL) like Dr. Tom Meyer ( can help.

Dental solutions to TMJ pain

Dental solutions to TMJ pain

3 dental solutions to TMJ pain

Headaches and other pain caused by temporomandibular joint disorder can be continuous until the source of the problem is treated. TMJ pain can be felt anywhere in your head, your face and sometimes even in other parts of your body. There are several dental solutions for TMJ that can ease your pain and may even keep it from recurring.

1. Relieving pain with muscle relaxation

Stressed muscles in your jaw and your neck are a primary cause of the pain associated with TMJ disorder. Relaxing the muscles can help to alleviate pain. You can relax your muscles by making an effort to avoid clenching your teeth or by performing simple exercises to relax your facial muscles.

An effective in-office treatment for TMJ pain is the use of a TENS machine that uses gentle electrical stimulation to relax your muscles. TMJ treatment that involves muscle relaxation can temporarily relieve pain, but other treatment may be necessary to solve the underlying problem that is causing the pain.

2. Orthotics

A dental orthotic is a device that fits over your teeth and gently positions your teeth and your jaws for optimum relaxation. TMJ orthotics are one of the most commonly used treatments for the symptoms of TMJ disorder. An orthotic is custom fitted to you so it is comfortable and effective.

3. Full mouth reconstruction

Sometimes the cause of TMJ disorder is a bad bite or misaligned teeth. Missing teeth and other dental problems can also cause your jaws to work improperly and cause symptoms of TMJ disorder.

Dental restorations to replace missing teeth, straighten your teeth or align your bite can eliminate a primary cause of TMJ and may provide relief from TMJ pain and symptoms more effectively than other methods of treatment.

A full mouth reconstruction can consist of any number of dental restorations or treatments necessary to align your bite and improve the structure and function of your teeth.

Get help for your pain

TMJ pain can have a detrimental effect on your concentration, your sleep, your job and your entire outlook on life. You don’t have to live with chronic pain. Contact Des Plaines dentist Dr. Meyer to schedule a consultation to talk about TMJ treatment. We can perform an exam and diagnostic tests to determine if you have TMJ disorder and offer solutions to improve your jaw function and ease your pain.

Chicago headaches, neck and back pain

Chicago headaches, neck and back pain

How your headaches, neck and back pain can be caused by a jaw problem

If you have a jaw problem, it could be causing symptoms throughout your head and even into your back. Jaw problems are one of the most common yet most often overlooked culprits behind headaches, migraines, neck pain and back pain. TMJ disorder is a jaw disorder that is often undiagnosed or left untreated, but treatment from a dentist can solve a lot of painful problems.

What is TMJ?

TMJ stands for the temporomandibular joint. These joints are on the sides of your head between your upper jaw and the base of your skull, and they are the joints that allow your jaws to move. These joints get a tremendous workout from the moment you are born and if they aren’t functioning correctly, TMJ syndrome can be the result. The causes of TMJ disorder include:

  • injuries to the jaw joint or teeth
  • a bite imbalance or misalignment of the teeth
  • teeth grinding and/or clenching
  • poor posture, stress, arthritis, and gum chewing

What are the symptoms?

In addition to pain or stiffness in the jaws, TMJ can send pain signals through your entire nervous system. Headaches are a common TMJ symptom. Other TMJ pain can be felt in your neck and even your back, in fact, it is possible for the complex nerve pathways involved in TMJ disorder to send pain signals anywhere in your body.

You may also experience:

  • muscle stiffness
  • tingling sensations in your hands or arms
  • popping sounds in your jaw joint
  • ear pain or ringing
  • vision problems like floaters.

While there are many possible causes of most of these symptoms, TMJ disorder is often overlooked by doctors.

Get help for TMJ problems

Dentists are often more knowledgeable about TMJ because the problem is related to your jaws and your teeth. Our Chicago dentist can diagnose TMJ disorder by an examination and a consultation to discuss your symptoms.

Treatment for TMJ can be noninvasive or involve permanent changes to your bite. Noninvasive treatment is usually recommended if you have a good bite and no missing or broken teeth. This usually involves the fitting of a dental appliance that will guide your jaws into proper position for optimum comfort.

If you have misaligned teeth or need dental work to straighten, replace or repair damaged teeth, restoring your teeth can balance your bite and relieve stress. These solutions can relieve TMJ symptoms and the pain of headaches, neck pain and back pain.

If you are suffering from undiagnosed pain, please contact us to set up an appointment. If a jaw or tooth issue is behind the problem, a dental solution could be the answer you’ve been looking for to get rid of your pain.

San Diego ICCMO Conference

San Diego ICCMO Conference

Dr Meyer at San Diego ICCMO conference

I was away from work last week for a couple of days to serve out my last days as President of the International College of Cranio-Mandibular Orthopedics (ICCMO). I traveled to San Diego and was greeted by 80 degree heat, but sat comfortably in the lecture hall soaking up as much knowledge as possible.

ICCMO is a non-for-profit organization that helps bring dentists, chiropractors, physical therapists, myo functional therapists, message therapists, physicians, ENT’s and neurologists together to study the mouth to body connection. Our goal is to help our patients get rid of jaw aches, migraines, headaches, and neck and shoulder pain by relaxing the muscles of the face with TENS physical therapy. We can help the jaw move to a happy, relaxed position.

We use a specific orthopedic jaw appliance over the teeth to maintain this new corrected and stable bite position. A proper jaw position is a building block to a balanced head and neck posture, and ultimately can affect the body as a whole.

Neuromuscular dentistry can help treat TMD

What is great about neuromuscular dentistry is that it is a non-invasive, non-surgical, and reversible treatment that can help you get rid of headaches. Many patients experience success in TMD treatment after years of failed attempts from other health professionals.

One of the talks at the seminar was by a neurologist and dentist from Edmonton, Canada, who together spoke to us about a study on the relationship between the jaw muscles and cerebral blood flow. Their study was performed on professional football players and it was really impressive. They determined that relaxing the jaw muscles and rehabilitating the teeth will improve cerebral blood flow. This balancing out of the jaw muscles and better blood flow to the brain increased coordination, balance and performance.

Orthodontic treatment should not require tooth extraction

We also had an orthodontist speak to us about the adverse affects of having teeth extracted as part of orthodontic treatment. He had a case history of identical twins in which one twin had extractions done and subsequently developed TMD/neuromuscular pain and headaches. After then undergoing 2 years of treatment with new expansion/repositioning orthodontics, she was relieved of her pain.

Her sibling, the other twin, did not have any teeth extracted and was treated with expansion/repositioning orthodontics immediately and her orthodontic treatment was complete in 9 short months. Meyer Dental Group believes that orthodontic treatment should not require extractions, similar to the study that was presented.

An inter-disciplinary approach to sleep and behavioral disorders

A Myofunctional therapist from California, Joy Moeller, joined us to speak about a multi- disciplinary approach in the treatment of sleep apnea. The talk covered the common developmental pathways and environmental influences that lead to TMJ disorders and Sleep Disorders. Problems associated with sleep apnea include ADD, ADHD, and orthopedic developmental problems. These are all conditions we deal with in our office on a daily basis and will be evaluated in order to give you the proper diagnosis and treatment options.

Learn more

It was a great lecture forum and I was on my toes making sure everything went smoothly. It was extremely rewarding bringing so many great speakers together for the ICCMO North America meeting. Please visit and for more info about TMD and feel free to come into the office for a free consultation.
Dr. Tom Meyer, DDS, MICCMO