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Headaches? Call Your Dentist!

Are you suffering from unexplained or recurrent headaches? Have you been unable to figure out the culprit? It may sound strange, but headaches are often linked to your oral health.  Talking to Dr. Morrison, of Jeff M.Morrison & Associates, DDS, should be a starting point when dealing with chronic headaches.
"Many people suffer through headaches for years without getting to the root cause of their problem" notes Dr. Jeff M. Morrison, DDS.  "Letting your dentist know about your pain can be a great first step because chronic or recurrent headaches are frequently caused by dental issues."  In fact, the American Academy of Craniofacial Pain estimates that 80% of headaches are caused by muscle tension, which often originates in the jaws.  

What Do Tension Headaches Feel Like?

A tension headache may be on one side of your head, or it can pervade your entire skull. Typically, tension headaches feel like a dull, throbbing ache inside your head. Some patients report that they feel as though a metal band has been wrapped around their head and is causing significant pressure. Several common symptoms suggest that tension headaches may be caused by dental issues:

1.      Feeling as though your head or scalp is painful to the merest touch
2.      Experiencing a dull or throbbing pain behind the eyes
3.      Clicking or popping sounds in your jaw joints
4.      Grinding teeth or clenching the jaws, particularly in times of stress, anxiety or during the night
5.      Feeling as though your jaw muscles are sore when you wake up from sleep

Dental Origins of Headaches

Several dozen muscles control your facial expressions, jaw movements, and motions such as swallowing. When these muscles are contracted for long periods of time, tension builds up within the muscle and can lead to headaches. This may happen if you clench or grind your teeth at night, your bite is misaligned, or you have muscle imbalances in the jaw or neck.

Dental Treatments for Tension Headaches

Want to get to the bottom of your headaches?  Schedule anappointment with Dr. Morrison.  He will talk with you, review of your medical and dental history, and possibly take some x-rays.  If dental issues are contributing to you headaches, your care may include the following treatments:

1.      Bite adjustment. Every time you swallow the teeth come together to push the jaw against the skull.   If you have a poorly aligned bite, this can cause your muscles to work even harder. Those with TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disordersuffer from jaw joint and muscle problems that can cause pain and swelling and even headaches. In many cases, correcting your bite through orthodontics releases the stress on your jaw and muscles, and reduces the frequency of headaches.
2.      Nightguard.  A nightguard, which resembles a sports mouthguard, may also be helpful if you frequently grind your teeth or clench your jaws during sleep. Nightguards distribute the tension from your clenched jaws and reduce the possibility of dental damage.
3.      Physical therapy and relaxation. Correcting the posture of your shoulders, neck, and head may alleviate muscle tension associated with headaches. 

Have questions or want to talk with Dr. Morrison about your headaches?  Contact our office online or at (919) 755 3450 to schedule an appointment.