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

 

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Your TMJ jaw pain: Could it be caused by the holiday season?

Your TMJ jaw pain: Could it be caused by the holiday season?

There is nothing worse than experiencing intense TMJ jaw pain, neck pain, or a full-blown headache when you’re busy. Unfortunately, for patients with TMJ disorder, busy times tend to spell increased pain or discomfort. We have found that many of our TMJ patients experience more pain during the holiday season.

The stress of the season definitely contributes to the jaw strain and pain that our patients experience. Why does stress affect the jaw? And, is there anything you or Dr. Tom Meyer (Des Plaines dentist) can do to treat or prevent the pain from getting in the way of your holiday plans?

How stress affects the jaw, joints and muscles of the face and neck

According to Colgate, studies have shown that twenty to thirty percent of the population experiences TMJ neck pain, jaw pain, headache, and even a TMJ migraine. Women are three times as likely to experience TMJ pain than men. The statistics are staggering – that means over 97.5 million people regularly suffer with debilitating pain.

TMJ disorder symptoms are caused by:

  • Malocclusion (a bite that is off; teeth that don’t fit together ideally).
  • Muscle tension in the muscles of the face, neck, and shoulders.
  • Trauma or injury to the jaw joint or any of the muscles of the head, neck, and shoulders.
  • Bruxism (grinding of the teeth), which usually done the most during sleep.
  • Arthritis or tumors of the jaw joint.

Each of these circumstances strains the muscles, which leads to tension and pain. Some people experience so much pain that they can’t eat, sleep, or fully open their mouth. Even the slightest touch can cause muscle spasms and even worse pain. It is a horrible condition to deal with, which is why a TMJ specialist like Dr. Meyer will do a TMJ examination at each annual exam appointment. We do this regularly because we believe that the sooner there is a diagnosis, the sooner our patients will be pain-free.

Why the season can cause TMJ jaw pain, TMJ migraines and headaches

For many people, the holiday season is a beautiful time of year, full of love and memorable experiences. However, most people will agree with us that there is a lot of stress during this time of year. Why?

  • Shopping: This is probably the number one cause of stress during the season. People are stressed because they want to buy the perfect gift, which can be hard to do in some cases. They’re also stressed out because of the cost of the gifts, decorations, food, etc. And, they also have to deal with other shoppers who are also just as stressed out as they are.
  • Putting Up Decorations: You may not think that putting up decorations would be stressful, but we’ve found that it definitely can be. According to Psychology Today, many of us have this idealistic attitude toward the season. We expect it to feel and look like a Norman Rockwell painting; and, unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.
  • Hosting Parties: Being a host or hostess any time of the year can be exciting and fun, but stressful. This is especially the case during the holidays. Again, we have certain expectations that typically put us into “perfection mode” and life simply isn’t perfect. And then we have jaw pain and headaches as a result.
  • Eating the Wrong Foods: During this time of year, there seems to be food everywhere. Sweet, chewy foods seem to be particularly abundant. Eating anything chewy or hard can cause a lot of strain on the jaw joint and muscles. The result is jaw strain and pain.

We believe… that there are easy ways to reduce stress this holiday season

Ways to avoid more pain for TMJ patients this holiday seasonWith stress coming at us from every direction during this time of year, we have found that a lot of people feel helpless when it comes to their TMJ neck pain and jaw pain.

Fortunately, there are simple things that can be done to reduce stress and prevent discomfort. Here are some simple yet effective ways to avoid additional pain.

  • Get sufficient rest: Rest is essential. The less restful sleep you have, the more stressed you will feel. We know there is so much to do during this time of year, but we highly recommend doing all you can to ensure that you get seven to eight hours of restful sleep each night.
  • Drink plenty of water: According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, dehydration causes muscle damage. The more dehydrated you are, the more damage there is and the more tenderness and pain you will experience.
  • Shop online: This is one of the best ways to beat stress, road rage, and unhappy interactions with other shoppers. Plus, you might find some amazing deals!
  • Watch what you eat: Make sure to avoid chewy, sticky, hard foods. Instead, focus more on nutrient dense options to stay healthy and energized. Green vegetables in particular are helpful because they have a lot of anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Take time to take a deep breath: Take five or ten minutes throughout the day to step away from your job, shopping, decorating, and cooking, and just breathe. It will help calm you, relax your muscles, and give you perspective about what really matters this season.

 

A pain-free holiday season: It really is possible!

While stress may be higher during the holiday season, we want to assure you that there is something you can do to prevent pain. Our patients who have put into practice the stress-reduction recommendations or proceed with TMJ jaw pain treatment options have found relief. And, you can too. Of this we are confident. If you would like more information about how Dr. Tom Meyer can help you with TMJ pain, contact us today.

TMJ Dentist Des Plaines and Mount Prospect IL

Have you been experiencing head, neck, or jaw pain recently? If so, you may have TMJ disorder. We invite you to read more about this condition and the importance of getting a diagnosis and treatment plan as soon as possible.

Test yourself for TMJ pain

Migraines, jaw pain, ear pain, neck pain?
Take Free Online TMJ Test