TMJ Disorder & Headaches

Types of TMJ related Headaches


Many TMJD patients experience migraine type headaches. Sometimes these occur because of the pressure placed on the joints in the jaw. Because of this pressure, the muscles are in a constant state of tension (or contraction). Facial muscles may begin to cramp, causing intense pain which may in turn cause nausea and sensitivity to light.

Cluster Headache

Described as a sudden burst of pain behind one eye. Less common than migraine, and more common in men than women. TMJ headaches can feel like cluster headaches (severe pain on one side of the eye), but generally they are not classic cluster headaches.

Sinus Headache

These types of headaches are pressure based and feel worse when the head is tilted forward. The symptoms for sinus headache include earaches and runny nose. Sinus-like symptoms can occur because ears, nose and mouth are in close proximity and all connect with one another. Some TMJ disorder patients have reported experiencing more sinus infections once they were diagnosed with TMJD. As of right now we are not really sure what the connection is.

Tension Headache

A tension headache can range from a dull ache to sharp pain. The pain can be felt as surface pain from tense muscles in the area of the TMJ, to the upper regions of the neck and down to the shoulders. The pain may change when eating, yawning or swallowing. TMJ tension headaches can be referred pain or pain that originates from the jaw and radiates to the temple area. The pain is often described as feeling like a vice or a tight rubber band around the forehead.

TMJ Headache Triggers

  • Dental problems
  • Trauma
  • Hormonal changes such as those that occur during the menstrual cycle
  • Fatigue
  • Clenching and grinding
  • Poor posture
  • Extreme physical exertion