When it comes to headaches, there are many things to blame, from stress to hormones to trauma. Yet, as it turns out, there’s often a direct connection between headaches and oral health problems.
While a simple cavity or oral infection can contribute to headaches, they are often a result of muscle strain from a patient’s bite or jaw. For instance, if a person has a misaligned bite, they must work harder to chew their food. This produces added pressure and strain to the jaw. While pain can be felt in the teeth and gums, it often radiates or moves to other places on the face and head, including behind the eyes or in the temples. Thus, this can be confusing to some, causing them to assume that the headache pain is due to something else, when it is actually a problem in the mouth.
In addition, pain may spread to the neck and shoulders. This is a result of muscle strain and tension from the oral cavity. Other conditions linked to headaches are Bruxism and TMD (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder). These are issues specifically associated with the jaw joint, and patients may even hear a clicking or popping sound when opening and closing their mouth. To better understand, consider the following:
Bruxism occurs when people clinch or grind their teeth. This may happen at any time. For those that “brux” at night, they often complain of headaches and soreness in the face the next day. Yet, they may not attribute their pain to grinding their teeth, since most are not aware that they are doing it. Therefore, it’s important to consider the signs and symptoms of Bruxism, so that your dentist can examine your teeth and jaw.
When classifying TMD (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder), many dentists will also consider Bruxism. This is because grinding or clenching the teeth is known to contribute to TMD. The cycle of pain is believed to begin with some type of trauma or stress, a metabolic issue, or even a stimulant that causes muscle spasms in the jaw joint. This is when Bruxism takes place. Over time, the muscles in the jaw are weakened and fatigued, causing pain from the buildup of lactic acid. In some cases, the muscles begin to spasm.
Tell Your Dentist
When it comes to headaches, the real culprit may be difficult to pin. That’s why it’s important to tell your dentist if you are having frequent headaches. Many times, headaches are caused by problems that your dentist can treat.
At Grateful Dental, Dr. Leia Porcaro understands how debilitating headaches can be. With a commitment to patient education, Dr. Porcaro invites you to call Grateful Dental today. Together, we can determine the cause of your headache pain, and help you eliminate it.