TMJ or temporomandibular joint disorder is a well-known cause of tension headaches. Tension headaches account for about 90% of all headache pain and are caused by muscle contractions. The symptoms can be quite mild or sometimes severe, and are often diagnosed as migraines, and most tension headaches begin in the forehead or temples, or at the back of the head spreading down the neck and shoulders. Luckily for those people wanting to know what to do about TMJ headaches, there are several courses of action.
Using an NTI-tss appliance
An NTI- tss (Nociceptive Trigeminal Inhibition- tension suppression system) appliance was approved in 2001 by the US Food and Drug Administration for helping to prevent tension and migraine headaches caused by TMJ and bruxism. Studies have shown that 82% of users had a 77% reduction in migraine headaches while 16% had an 85% to 100% reduction in their migraine headaches. Tension headache sufferers found that wearing this device while asleep helped relieve or even eliminate the pain.
How does it work?
It works by interrupting the trigeminal nerve activity in the jaw and head muscles and has been found to be very effective in reducing TMJ headaches. The trigeminal nerve is also called the fifth nerve and is essentially a sensory nerve that relays information from the face and head. It affects the forehead, upper and lower jaw, eyes, nose and scalp. It also has some motor functions which include biting and chewing.
What does it look like?
The NTI-tss is a small device that fits over the front teeth. It works by propping open the back teeth so they cannot contact and puts the jaw into the correct position so that the muscles have no choice but to relax. It is constructed chair side by your dentist and is designed to be worn at night. Your dentist will have to complete a thorough examination of your jaw to see whether you are suitable for this device.
Alternative treatments for TMJ headaches
Wearing a Mouth Guard
Alternative treatments for TMJ headaches include wearing a mouth guard which gives the muscles of the jaw a chance to relax and heal. This is one of the most effective and immediate treatments for dealing with the symptoms of TMJ.
Reducing stress levels
Other ways of treating TMJ headaches include taking over-the-counter painkillers and reducing stress levels, as this condition is frequently linked to stress and anxiety. There are many ways to go about reducing stress levels so it’s possible to use several methods in conjunction with each other. It can be something as simple as taking a hot bath before bedtime, or doing some relaxation exercises or yoga. Gently massaging your face or applying moist heat to the area can also help as it will increase blood flow and help the body’s natural painkillers, endorphins, to be released. In short, anything that gives you a better night’s sleep will help reduce stress levels, aiding relief from headaches.
Pay attention to your posture
Make sure that you have good posture while sitting, especially while eating, as this will help reduce the stress on the jaw that could aggravate headaches. If you have good posture while performing day-to-day activities your body will be more fully oxygenated and more able to deal with inflammation within the temporomandibular joint and to heal.