Do you have persistent headaches or ear pain, but have been told there’s nothing wrong with you? Maybe you chalk it up to allergies or just stress. To deal with it, you might take an over-the-counter pain reliever when it gets bad.
But just taking pain medicine and not getting to the root of the problem is a mistake. You could have a temporomandibular disorder (TMD), and the longer it goes untreated, the worse it could become. In fact, persistent teeth grinding can not only harm your jaw, but it could permanently damage your teeth, leading to cracks, chips, or tooth loss.
Headaches and TMD
We all get headaches from time to time. Sinus problems, stress, and even dehydration can cause a monster headache – and we just want relief. There’s nothing wrong with taking a pain reliever in those instances when you need some extra help to manage the pain.
But if you regularly get headaches and don’t have a medically diagnosed reason, you could be suffering from TMD. Although jaw pain and clicking are the most well-known symptoms, headaches are one of the top indicators of TMD as well. If you resort to just popping a pill when the pain comes, you could be doing more harm than good.
When you cover up your TMD symptoms with pain relievers, you may be able to get through your day, but you’re sacrificing your long-term health. The grinding will continue, the tooth damage will escalate, and your jaw will endure further damage. Also, your headaches will likely continue to occur – leading to a vicious cycle of taking even more pain relievers to cope.
Ear Pain and TMD
If you get an ear ache, you probably suspect that something is wrong inside your ear. Usually, this is an ear infection. But if your doctor says your ears are fine and you still have ear pain, what do you do? For starters, you might take some pain reliever to deal with the symptoms, but you may not know what to do after that.
The problem may not be your ears at all. Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) sits very close to your ear. This means pain and inflammation in your TMJ can easily migrate to your ear. Not only is this painful, but it can continue to progress and lead to further jaw problems and tooth damage if it’s not diagnosed and treated properly.
Ongoing ear pain is not normal. If ear problems have been ruled out, look into the possibility of TMD with a medical professional who can properly diagnose and treat this condition.
Managing TMD the Right Way
We teach our patients at MedCenter TMJ that treating TMD requires much more than just popping a pain reliever. Pain relievers may be helpful or even necessary in some cases, as we don’t believe you should suffer through pain day after day. But, they should not be the only treatment for this complex, underdiagnosed disorder.
We provide each of our patients with a comprehensive treatment plan to help them deal with not only the symptoms of TMD, but the underlying causes of the condition as well. This, in turn, reduces pain and jaw discomfort, enabling you to carry on with your daily activities without the constant need for pain relievers.