Headaches can be caused by a huge variety of different things. Sometimes they occur due to loud noises, dehydration or exposure to certain substances in the environment around us. They can even happen because we are tired or run down. However, in many circumstances, headaches are caused by dental problems. There are several in particular that are well known for causing a range of unpleasant symptoms that include headaches. These are:
This is when the upper and lower teeth do not come together properly when the patient closes their mouth. Examples include overbites, underbites, crossbites and openbites. Malocclusion can cause tension to develop in the jaw face, neck and shoulder muscles and this can lead to tension headaches.
This condition is characterized by the unconscious or subconscious clenching and grinding of the teeth. It most often happens when we are asleep, although it can occur in the daytime if we are particularly worried or stressed. One of the key effects of bruxism is that is causes massive pressure to be placed onto the teeth and jaws for the duration of each episode. Not only can this cause uneven wear and damage to the teeth, but most sufferers of bruxism also experience headaches, particularly in the mornings.
Sleep apnea is a very common condition that occurs when the sufferer experiences a temporary interruption to their normal pattern of breathing through the night. This is most often caused by soft tissue at the back of the throat collapsing due to being relaxed, blocking the airway. The patient’s body then recognizes the lack of oxygen reaching the lungs and over-compensates to push past the blockage and recommence normal breathing. A sufferer can have between one and a hundred or more episodes of sleep apnea during one regular period of sleep. Sleep apnea causes disrupted sleep for both the sufferer and their partner, and this, combined with a reduction in the amount of oxygen received in the night can cause many symptoms including headaches.
The great news is that there are treatments that can help provide relief from headaches that are caused by dental problems. Precisely which treatment you will need will depend on the underlying trigger causing your headaches. This is where your dentist is your most valuable support. Your dentist can assess your teeth to determine if it is definitely a dental issue that is causing your headaches, and which type of dental problem is responsible. Using this information, the right treatment can be recommended.
If your dentist has identified that you have problems with your bite that are likely to be causing your headaches, you will almost certainly be recommended for orthodontic treatment. This is because only orthodontic treatment can adjust the position of the teeth and jaws so that the teeth come together properly when you close your mouth. However, depending on the extent of your malocclusion, you may also need to have one or more teeth removed.
Orthodontic treatment usually involves wearing either a conventional brace or using a new solution called Invisalign. Braces involve metal or ceramic brackets being placed onto the teeth, through which wires and bands are attached to apply pressure to the teeth and jaw to move them into the correct positions. Invisalign uses the same method but relies on a series of transparent, custom-designed aligners to push teeth into their new places. By resolving your bite issues using orthodontic treatment, you will see a reduction in the number of headaches that you experience.
If you have been diagnosed as suffering from bruxism, your dentist will probably get you to wear a nightguard to protect your teeth. This will prevent them from coming into direct contact with one another, eliminating damage to the enamel but also providing cushioning that reduces the amount of stress placed on the teeth and jaw. You may also be recommended to try medications that help to reduce stress and anxiety that makes you clench and grind your teeth. As a result, your headaches should significantly reduce.
Sleep apnea largely occurs due to carrying excess weight and because of certain lifestyle factors. For example, drinking alcohol before bed makes you more likely to experience episodes of sleep apnea since it is a relaxant. Smoking, certain medications and medical conditions and even advancing age also increase your risk of experiencing sleep apnea. Fortunately, there are a number of treatments available. In the first instance, you will be given advice and support about making positive lifestyle changes that will improve your symptoms. This may even provide sufficient relief so that you do not need any further treatment. If not, you may be given a treatment called CPAP, which stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. This involves a mask being placed over your mouth which gently blows oxygen into your airway to keep it open while you sleep. There are also other sleep devices which can prove effective in treating sleep apnea and reducing the number of headaches that you experience as a result of your condition.
If you would like more information about dental treatments for headache relief, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our offices where our experienced dentistry professionals will be delighted to help you.