Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Can a headache mean dental problems?

            Headaches can have a variety of origins: allergies, dehydration, head colds and a host of other reasons. But they can also be related to dental problems. Tooth decay, a bad bite, or night time clenching/grinding can lead to habitual headaches.
            Cavities and dental infections can trigger headaches and pain. Often times the headaches that are associated with dental problems stem from tension. The stress of a toothache can cause muscle strain to build up in the mouth and jaw. The headaches that originate from the teeth and the mouth are typically a duller pain that you can feel on one side, both sides, or all around.
            Another potential culprit of a headache could be a misaligned bite. If the chewing surfaces of the teeth don’t meet together correctly when the jaw shuts, it can place strain on the muscles and joints as they try to compensate. The muscles then have to work even harder and become more easily strained. And since we use our jaw so frequently with chewing, talking, swallowing and yawning, it is difficult to get the rest need to recover.
            It is also possible that pain felt in the teeth or jaw can radiate or refer pain to other parts of your head. It is related to the trigeminal nerve, which controls sensation in the face and other functions like biting and chewing. Pain from one branch of the nerve can cause other branches of the nerve to react. A problem that began in your mouth can eventually lead to pain in your head, behind the eyes, the temples or the forehead.
            We also see examples of headache pain resulting from clenching and grinding the teeth at night. This habit will overwork the jaw muscles and can lead to temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD). They can be signaled by popping or clicking of the jaw and can lead to minor headaches and in some cases even result in migraines.
            With so many potential origins of your headaches, it is best to consult with your physician and your dentist to best treat any problems. There are a variety of different treatments to a properly help out with these issues, and they can help tailor the right plan for you.

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.

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