Millions of people experience headaches and jaw pain that cannot be stopped by over-the-counter pain medications. Most of them do not realize the source of their discomfort may be a problem with the temporomandibular joint. Temporomandibular joint disorder or TMJ/TMD affects over one third of the adult population in the United States. Most of those suffering from this malady are women.
TMJ/TMD discomfort is experienced differently by individuals. For some, it manifests as a nagging headache. Others may have jaw pain or neck and shoulder pain. The discomfort originates from the jaw joint and the surrounding tissues. Muscles in that area become fatigued when a person clenches their teeth or grinds their teeth while sleeping. Many people who wake up with headaches do not realize that they have been grinding their teeth in their sleep. The result of this added strain to the muscles and nerves of the jaw area is discomfort that can be felt in neighboring muscles.
The degree to which the problem exists determines the dental treatment. In many cases, the disorder will resolve on its own over time. Other people may need to implement an exercise routine in order to eliminate the irritation. Still, others will need more extensive treatment to reduce the pain.