Does My Headache Mean I Need Treatment For TMJ/Bruxism?

Frequent headaches or migraines could be caused by a number of factors, but for some, they could be related to the smile. When our jaw joints undergo strain, the onset of TMJ disorder and /or bruxism is possible, and these disorders could lead to headaches and other serious complications. In today’s blog, your Des Moines, IA, dentist explains how we treat these two oral health concerns.

TMJ Disorder and Bruxism

At first glance, these two disorders seem incredibly different and unrelated. While each is unique, they are often connected as well. TMJ disorder occurs when our jaw joints become strained, the stress eventually leading to problems opening and closing the mouth. Causes could include tooth loss, injury to the face or jaw, bite imbalance, and dental misalignment. Bruxism means you grind and clench your teeth on a near nightly basis, and this intense pressure could begin to wear down enamel or even chip or crack teeth, increasing the risk of decay and infection. Many of the same factors behind TMD could cause bruxism. In fact, untreated TMD could increase the risk of teeth grinding, and vice versa!

Common Warning Signs

Both of these disorders could cause headaches and migraines, aches in the neck and shoulders, and pain in the face and jaw. TMJ disorder could also lead to a popping or crackling sensation in your jaw, and bruxism is linked to tooth sensitivity and toothaches, as well as teeth appearing small or short, caused by the pressure wearing down and damaging them. If you begin to experience these warning signs, then please contact our team today for a diagnosis. The sooner we administer treatment, the sooner you avoid discomfort and oral health complications!

Possible Solutions

For both, we may suggest an oral appliance. After we take detailed impressions and images of your smile, we use this information to design and craft an appliance that looks and fits like a mouthguard. You wear it as you sleep, and the device helps reposition the jaw to ease strain and prevent TMD symptoms. The appliance also provides a barrier between the upper and lower teeth, which helps reduce the risk of further damage during grinding episodes. We could also help by correcting misalignment with orthodontics, or even placing a restoration like a crown to improve overall bite balance. If you have any questions about treating these jaw joint disorders, then contact our team today.


Our team can help address issues with jaw joint strain using a preventive approach. To learn more about our general and preventive treatment options, then schedule a consultation with Dr. Burds by calling Gateway Dental Group in downtown Des Moines, IA, at (515) 244-9565.