young woman experiencing a migraine headacheIf you’ve been wondering what nerve causes migraines, you’re in the right place. It’s National Migraine Awareness Month, so we decided to do our part by focusing on the nerve that serves as the origin point of migraines: the trigeminal nerve. At Beyond Exceptional Dentistry in Savannah, GA, we want our patients to experience migraine-free lives. Without knowing what might trigger your frequent migraines, there’s no way to find relief. Learn if you’re suffering from trigeminal nerve migraines and if TMJ is the cause.

How the Trigeminal Nerve Triggers Migraines

Migraines are vascular headaches. Irregularities in the blood vessels in your brain, typically when the blood vessels swell, cause migraines by putting pressure on the brain. The blood vessels don’t expand spontaneously. Often abnormal stimuli in the trigeminal nerve trigger this swelling. Abnormal stimuli in the trigeminal nerve cause it to release chemicals that trigger the expansion of blood vessels. Ironically, the experience of pain, as a result, can cause more stimuli that lead to more swelling.

But what causes this abnormal stimuli?

Muscles Controlled by the Trigeminal Nerve

The trigeminal nerve controls eight muscles:

  • Masseter
  • Temporal
  • Medial
  • Lateral pterygoid
  • Tensor veli palatini
  • Mylohyoid
  • Digastric
  • Tensor tympani

Except for the tensor tympani, all of these muscles are involved in biting, chewing, and swallowing. The first four are known as the muscles of mastication, because they’re our primary chewing muscles.

One potential cause of overstimulation of the trigeminal nerve, then, is excessive feedback from the jaw system. In TMJ, the muscles are unable to find a comfortable, relaxed position. Instead, they struggle, reposition, and grind. You may experience damage to your teeth and jaw pain.

Sensations Carried by the Trigeminal Nerve

In addition to controlling muscles, the trigeminal nerve carries sensations from your facial area. The trigeminal nerve contains three branches (that’s why it’s called trigeminal). The mandibular branch takes sensory data from the lower jaw area, all the way from the chin up to the area in front of the ear. The maxillary branch covers the area of the upper jaw, including the lower part of the nose and up to the area right below the eye. The ophthalmic branch takes sensory data from the nose, eyes, and scalp–until ⅔ of the way back on the head.

Another potential source of overstimulation of the trigeminal nerve is a pain in any of these areas, such as jaw pain or tension headaches.

Does TMJ Trigger All Migraines?

Based on how unevenly people respond to migraine treatments, it seems likely that there are many different causes of migraines. For many people, TMJ treatment works great, and it involves no drugs and has few side effects. It’s a great treatment option, and people who haven’t tried it should consider it, especially if they have other symptoms associated with TMJ like tinnitus, neck pain, and damage or excessive wear on teeth.

Treating and Preventing Trigeminal Nerve Migraine Headaches

graphic of man, showing migraine nervesOur Savannah TMJ dentist can help you put a stop to trigeminal migraines for life. After an examination, we can tell you if TMJ is the cause of your frequent headaches. More often than not it is. Once we’ve properly diagnosed your TMJ, we can begin a treatment plan to help your jaw joints reestablish balance and prevent migraines from occurring for life. Start your TMJ treatment in Savannah as soon as possible by scheduling a consultation with our TMJ dentist.

Stop Migraines for Life With Help From Our Savannah TMJ Dentist

If you would like to learn whether TMJ is responsible for your trigeminal nerve migraines in Savannah, please call (912) 234-8282 for an appointment with a TMJ dentist at Beyond Exceptional Dentistry.