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1460 Ritchie Highway, Suite 203 Arnold, MD 21012

Frequent Headaches Annapolis, MD

Everyone has had a headache at some point in their life. Frequent or recurring headaches, however, are not normal. This could point towards a dental problem. In fact, common dental problems often result in recurring headaches. Annapolis, MD, dentist Dr. Scott Finlay has advanced training and experience to diagnose and treat patients who have headaches as a result of Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD).

Dr. Finlay utilizes the latest technology and techniques in managing TMD, such as computer-assisted occlusal analysis and CT/MRI scans.

treating Chronic Headaches and Jaw Pain in Annapolis MD

TMJ and Headaches

Headaches are among the most misdiagnosed conditions in medicine. Most doctors and dentists find it difficult to connect headaches and TMJ disorders. A type of tension headache, TMJ headaches are often caused by teeth clenching or grinding, which is most likely a result of stress.

Who is affected?

Women and people between the ages of 20 and 40 are most likely to get headaches and facial pain as a result of TMD. Stress and a lack of sleep can increase the risk of TMJ headaches.

Symptoms of TMD

The signs of TMD are unique to the patient. This can make it hard for an untrained doctor to reach a diagnosis. TMJ symptoms also often mask themselves or are similar to those of other medical conditions. There are many common signs or symptoms, and TMJ headaches typically appear with other symptoms, which include:

  • Teeth grinding or clenching
  • Sore jaw or jaw pain
  • Neck or shoulder pain
  • Poor range of motion in the jaw joints and/or locking jaw
  • Popping noise in the jaw joint
  • Pressure in the ear or earaches

TMJ Headaches Treatment in Annapolis

Dr. Finlay offers a wide range of solutions for patients seeking a cure for TMJ headaches. The key is identifying and managing what is causing them as best as possible. Before TMJ treatment, Dr. Finlay will properly diagnose your TMJ disorder.

Dr. Finlay will first take scans of the teeth, gums, and jaw to find areas of damage or wear. CT and MRI scans can show signs of tooth wear or a bad bite that contributes to headaches.

Dr. Finlay also uses occlusal analysis to find abnormalities in the bite that can worsen symptoms. During this analysis, he examines how your teeth come together when closed or talking. He can also measure bite pressure and whether your bite is even throughout the mouth.

After Dr. Finlay finds signs of TMD, he will recommend the best treatment for your symptoms.

TMJ treatment may involve physical therapy, medications, splints, and bite correction therapies. Keep in mind that TMJ problems can be progressive in nature. The sooner you seek a diagnosis, the more conservative the solution may be.

Splints and Night Guards for TMJ Headaches

Dental splints and night guards are a front line therapy for headaches. Dr. Finlay custom fabricates appliances that bring the teeth and jaw joints into proper alignment, managing teeth grinding or clenching, and alleviating muscle tension. A patient will wear a dental splint at night, though some will benefit from wearing the device during the day.

Bite Correction Procedures

The teeth should line up so that they make even contact with one another, creating a low-stress bite. Bite correction procedures, also known as occlusal equilibration, bring the teeth and jaws into proper alignment through restorative dental treatments. Dr. Finlay uses a number of treatments, including:

  • Bite adjustments (equilibration)
  • Orthodontics
  • Dental restorations (crowns or veneers)

Lifestyle Changes to Reduce Headaches

In addition to treatment in our office, we recommend lifestyle changes to reduce headaches in Annapolis, MD:

Soft Foods

Eating soft foods can reduce headaches because they are easier to digest and put less strain on the jaw and teeth. Chewing hard or tough foods can increase tension in the jaw and neck muscles. In addition, soft foods with higher water content increase hydration to prevent headaches.

Examples of soft foods you can eat while you receive TMJ treatment include pasta, soups, oatmeal,

Practicing Good Posture

Many people hunch over to look at their phone or work on their laptop. When you slouch forward, it adds stress to the muscles and joints in the upper body. This can contribute to tension headaches.

Maintain good posture with the head aligned over the shoulders and the spine in a neutral position. Make sure anything you read or work on equal to your eye line. Good posture can also improve blood flow and circulation, reducing the risk of headaches.

Relaxation Techniques

Meditation, massage, and can help stretch your muscles and/or reduce stress. Stress is a large contributor to headaches. When you take time out of your day to meditate, you help calm your nervous system.

Relaxing before bed especially can reduce the change of nightly bruxism that leads to headaches. In bed, you can focus on releasing tension in each body part to feel relaxed and ready to sleep.


Exercising the upper body helps reduce head, neck, back, and shoulder tension. Neck rolls or shoulder shrugs are common everyday exercises.

Jaw exercises are essential if you have a TMJ disorder. You may find yourself clenching your jaw unconsciously when stressed. To relax your jaw, place the tip of your tongue in the middle of the roof of your mouth. Ensure your teeth stay apart.

You can also gently work your muscles by slowly opening and closing your mouth. Keep the tongue on the mouth’s roof while you do this exercise.


Medication can help manage TMJ headaches. NSAIDs may reduce pain and inflammation in the jaw joint and surrounding muscles. We may also prescribe muscle relaxants before sleep to reduce teeth clenching and grinding that lead to morning headaches.

Get Rid of Frequent Headaches for Good

Don’t mask headache symptoms with pain medication. For lasting treatment, schedule a consultation with Scott Finlay, DDS and Associates, PA to see if your headaches are linked to a dental problem.

Call to treat headaches in our Annapolis, MD dentist’s office at 410.989.7132. You may also schedule an appointment online. Please let us know if you have questions about your TMJ headaches.