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Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2007 Oct;99(4):314-8.

Temporomandibular dysfunction: an often overlooked cause of chronic headaches.

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Division of Allergy and Immunology, Department of Internal Medicine, University of South Florida, University of South Florida College of Medicine, James A. Haley Veteran's Hospital, Tampa, Florida 33612, USA.



To review and discuss the role of temporomandibular dysfunction (TMD) as a cause of chronic headaches and facial pain.


A literature review was performed using the PubMed database for English-language articles published between January 1, 1981, and August 31, 2006, using the following keywords: temporomandibular dysfunction, temporomandibular disorder, temporomandibular joint, and chronic headache. Additional information was obtained from a review of current medical texts.


Allergists and immunologists are frequently called on to evaluate patients with chronic headaches and facial pain. TMD is known to cause recurrent facial discomfort and headaches. Many individuals with the disorder present with headache or facial discomfort as their only chief complaint. They mistakenly think it is a "sinus" headache. Nearly 10 million Americans are affected by the disorder, and early studies estimate that TMD pain is the cause of chronic headaches in 14% to 26% of individuals with recurrent headaches.


TMD is a likely underdiagnosed cause of chronic headache and facial discomfort. As such, many patients with the disorder are routinely mislabeled as experiencing chronic sinusitis and are unnecessarily subjected to multiple courses of broad-spectrum antibiotics and other unnecessary therapy. TMD can be readily diagnosed by a careful history and physical examination. Patients typically respond well to conservative therapy, which includes behavioral modification and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. The disorder should be suspected in individuals with a long-standing history of chronic daily headaches and facial pain without objective evidence of sinus, neurologic, or intracranial abnormalities.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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