It is often hard for individuals to imagine how the jaw alignment can cause headaches and TMJ pain. Consider that the head and neck have so many muscles working together to help us with simple tasks such as chewing, talking, and swallowing. If these muscles are strained or out of alignment due to the way the teeth meet together it can make it difficult or painful to open and close as well as cause the muscle strain that can cause headaches.
Many times those with headaches and neck pain may also have some facial asymmetry. This can arise from a bad or misaligned bite which then is like a car out of alignment and pulls to one side. The 3D scans below illustrate this situation. The top scan shows how the bite pulls the jaw to the right. This pulls and overworks the muscles of the face and neck. The second scan shows how the face and jaw was realigned with conservative non-surgical jaw alignment methods that Dr. Konig uses. This patient originally presented with headaches and neck issues coupled with the esthetic concern of facial asymmetry
With regards to the neck, many times facial pain patients have a tendency to have a forward head posture, which in turn strains the neck muscles too. Sometimes there is an airway issue or nasal issue involved.
All these issues can often lead to damage of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Some symptoms of TMJ are:
- Tired or sore jaw
- Grinding or bruxism
- Clicking or popping of the joint
- Earaches or Tinnitus
- Neck pain and/or shoulder pain
- Eye pain
- Difficulty chewing
- And Headaches or Migraines
It may not be easy to visualize the connection with all these symptoms and your bite, however, there is a very real connection.
Dr. Konig, whose practice has special interest in TMJ and misaligned jaws explains, “ A bite evaluation or TMJ exam must not only focus on the teeth, but the whole system, this includes the head, neck, posture, jaw joints, tongue, and facial symmetry”.
On another note, most of these issues can be treated non-surgically even if crossbite, overbites, or underbites are involved.