We know that there is a strong link between temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ) and migraines. Now a new study confirms just how strong that link is among teens. As a result of the strong connection between the conditions, researchers recommend that TMJ and migraine should be treated together for best results.

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Looking at TMJ and Headache Types

Researchers in this study examined nearly 150 teens between the ages of 13 and 15. They used the Research Diagnostic Criteria (RDC), and found that 56% of the teens had TMJ. They then looked at how many of the teens had either migraines or tension type headache (TTH).

They found that having TMJ tripled a teen’s likelihood of having migraines. And painful TMJ was linked to more frequent headaches. They also found that migraine (not TMJ) was the best predictor for the number of tender spots in the trigeminal area.

However, they found that TMJ wasn’t linked to TTH risk.

What Is the Link?

Based on their findings, researchers didn’t think muscle tension was the primary cause for the link between TMJ and migraines. Instead, they favor the theory of central sensitization. Central sensitization means that a structure where pain impulses collect, such as the brain or an important ganglion like the trigeminal ganglion becomes sensitized to pain and tends to escalate pain sensations beyond what most people would consider normal.

In this model, even minor pain in the trigeminal nerve area, such as that caused by TMJ, can set off migraine attacks. Therefore, researchers proposed that one important way to cut down on the frequency and severity of migraines is to address the problem of TMJ, reducing the number of painful instances so that these pains wouldn’t set off migraines.

Have You Been Tested for TMJ?

For adults and teens with migraines, it’s not unusual to try many different treatments, but still be unhappy with what they are currently using. If this is you, and you’re not currently getting treatment for TMJ, you should consider that TMJ treatment could improve your migraine.

If you or your teen has migraines, you have probably researched many potential treatments. But often people overlook the potential for TMJ to contribute to migraine frequency and intensity. We are experienced at working together in a team environment with doctors, physical therapists, and more to achieve the best results for our patients, so we are prepared to help you get the interdisciplinary treatment that is being recommended for migraine and TMJ treatment.

Orofacial Pain Relief in the Detroit Area

If you are suffering from different types of orofacial pain such as TMJ and migraines, we can help you find assemble a crack team of experts to work together and give you better relief than any single doctor could achieve.

To learn more about TMJ treatment and how it can impact your migraines, please call (248) 480-0085 today for an appointment with TMJ dentist Dr. Jeffrey S. Haddad at the MIchigan Center for TMJ & Sleep Wellness in Troy, MI.