When you get a headache or a migraine you don’t think, “hey, I need to visit my dentist” do you? Generally, people don’t think of a dentist as the healthcare professional to see for recurring headaches or even migraines. However, dentists can play a key role in diagnosing and even treating your condition.

Why? Because recurring pain that is felt in the temples on the sides of the head are actually caused by unconscious habits of clenching and/or grinding of the teeth. These habits, which often manifest during sleep, put tremendous pressure on the muscles that work the jaw joint, which is also called the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).

Located over your temples on either side of your head are fan-shaped temporalis muscles, which are two of several muscles involved in jaw movement. You can easily feel them working if you put your fingertips on your temples while clenching and unclenching your jaw. When temporalis muscles go into spasm from too much clenching, headache symptoms may result. This is not to say that headaches and migraines are always caused by TMJ problems, but, given the established link between them, it definitely bears looking into—especially if a diagnosis remains elusive in your case.

What is a Headache?

We’ve all suffered from a headache or migraine at some point in our lives whether they are related to stress, noise, lack of sleep, and other complications. When understanding your headache, there are many key factors to take into account. A headache is simply described as a continuous pain in the head.

However, there could be an underlying health issue that is causing you to have constant headaches. When evaluating your symptoms, your doctor will want a complete list of characteristics of your headaches. Understanding these specific details will help your doctor give you a more in depth and thorough examination, in order to better understand your situation. Some of these characteristics include:

    • A description of the pain and where it occurs
    • The severity of the pain
    • Frequency
    • Length of time that the pain lasts
    • Triggers (Food, activities, stress, etc.)
    • Different types of headaches you experience

Aside from the symptoms, it is important to evaluate the physical and neurological aspects as well. There may be an underlying issue, so it is crucial to conduct a thorough exam. Some signs to look for include:

    • Trouble with balance
    • Vision abnormalities
    • Head trauma
    • Fatigue or muscle weakness
    • Blood pressure imbalance
    • Infections
    • Malformation