Most of us have had the occasional headache or neck ache. It comes with the stresses of the world we live in. We often overlook our teeth as a possible cause of headaches, but it should not be ruled out. The forces we each use, all day long, day after day, when eating, chewing, and talking can wreak havoc on us for many reasons. The alignment of teeth, the anatomy of the TMJ, tooth decay, bad habits such as clenching and grinding, etc. can all be causes of dental related headaches. Millions of people suffer from head and neck pain, and migraines due to issues with their teeth.
Where Does The Dentist Come In?
Your teeth, joints, muscles, and nerves all work together in the proper alignment and functioning of your jaw. When any part of this delicate balance is abused or neglected, painful conditions such as TMD, occlusal problems, and other serious dental health issues can develop. When our muscles are overworked or overstretched due to bite issues the muscles become sore and irritated. Studies have shown that about 3/4’s of all headaches are due to our bite. The pain and discomfort will vary from person to person but in many it can be life changing. Not only do the teeth need to be properly aligned but so do the surrounding muscles of the head and neck.
Head and Neck pain (as well as migraine headaches) can lead to the following symptoms:
-Pain and discomfort.
–Sleep Apnea and Snoring.
Many of these issues can be avoided with a proper diagnosis of dental issues. In many cases, your dentist can make simple adjustments to dramatically improve your situation. In others, more extensive treatment may be needed.
Common Dental Treatment For Headaches
–Adjustment Of Teeth. Changing the direction, size, and position of slopes in the teeth will help correct and balance the bite. This is the simplest way to relieve the pressure on our muscles and can be achieved in a short dental visit.
–Replacing Lost Teeth. Missing teeth may be one reason for causing imbalances in the muscles and teeth. If this happens, dental crowns, dental implants, and removable dentures will help maintain proper balance.
–Opening the Bite. Loss of vertical height due to grinding, can cause TMJ misalignment and painful headaches. Restoring teeth to their proper height with crowns can give the relief needed.
–Occlusal guards. These can be fabricated out of many combinations of materials to relieve many different dental issues. Grinding, clenching, TMJ decompression, etc. These can remove and dissipate painful forces which result in chronic headaches.
–Medication. While certain drugs can be prescribed to bring about temporary relief, it is necessary to discover and address the root cause of the headaches. Muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatory medications can help break the cycle of pain, hormone replacement therapy also provides relief in some women. Unfortunately, use of pharmaceuticals is a temporary measure and will not be a long term cure.
–Alternative Therapy. This can include acupuncture, chiropractics, change in diet, meditation, and exercise. Putting less strain on the TMJ can help relieve joint pain, just like with any other joint. Adopting a soft diet for a short time may be helpful for some patients. Corrective exercises and applying external heat can also bring relief from the pain.
The dental component of headaches is often overlooked. Many people often ignore dental issues when having headache issues but it can be a big mistake. If your dental condition is assessed and treated early enough, it can prevent further issues from developing. TMJ disorders, tooth damage, and even bone and gum recession need to be addressed early to avoid pain and headaches. Be smart about your health and do not ignore the warning signs. A simple problem can develop into a far more complex one over time.