Headache can ruin your day. Chronic pain wears down your immune system, zaps your energy, and eventually shows on your face as lines and wrinkles. Countless Americans self-medicate, dulling the discomfort somewhat with over the counter analgesics. For those under the care of a physician, treatment often consists of strong pain medications with the risk of serious side effects. Dr. Stanley Levenson, suggests a different approach for his patients in the Worcester area. He treats the underlying causes of headaches with drug-free dental treatments.
"Headache" is pain in any region of the head - top, back, forehead, cheeks, mouth, jaw, ears, or neck. A severe headache may trigger other symptoms such as vomiting, stiff neck or jaw, confusion, or slurred speech, ear noises, or vision impairment. Most people have some form of a headache at some point in their lives, although small children may not yet have the cognitive skills to describe it that way.
While each headache is unique, medical researchers define these primary types:
Tension - This type doesn’t throb, but causes a dull ache over most of the head. You may also experience scalp or forehead sensitivity, and tight shoulder muscles. Anyone who has stress (emotional or physical) can get tension headaches. Addressing the source of stress is key to finding relief.
Cluster - Acute, piercing pain, often on one side or around one eye indicates a cluster headache. Other symptoms include nasal congestion, eye tearing, flushing, sweating, and sometimes redness or swelling on the affected side of the face. They last up to several hours, and usually occur in a series, as the name implies. You may get cluster headaches daily for several months, then be symptom free for a while. Improvement in breathing may reduce occurrences.
Migraines - The intense, deep throbbing of a migraine can be quite debilitating and last for several days. This type of pain is often on one side. Migraines commonly trigger light and sound sensitivity, nausea, and vomiting. Some people experience aura (visual disturbance such as flashing or shimmering light, jagged lines, blind spots, or stars) before the onset of a migraine. Environmental factors such as dehydration, certain foods, and sleep deprivation can be triggers.
Sinus and allergy - Cluster headaches and migraines are frequently misdiagnosed as sinus and allergy headaches. True sinus and allergy headaches are the result of pressure in sinus and nasal passages caused by inflammation and build-up of mucous.
Hormone - Menstruation, pregnancy, birth control pills, and menopause cause hormonal fluctuations that trigger headaches, usually when estrogen and progesterone levels are low.
Caffeine - Coffee is a favorite beverage in the United States, but it affects blood flow to the brain. Too much of this stimulant can cause a headache, as can the “crash” that follows withdrawal.
Rebound - Overuse of medications for headaches can actually cause more! You may have an intensely painful, migraine-like headache or dull, tension-type pain when your system is deprived of analgesics.
Headache treatments in Worcester You have two trigeminal nerves in your face. They start slightly above and in front of the ears, branching to the eyes and upper and lower jaws. This nerve bundle carries sensations from your face to the brain, and controls motor functions of the mouth. It is a major factor in headaches, and your dental condition has a big affect on health of trigeminal nerves.
Bruxism (nighttime clenching and grinding) irritates nerves, as does malocclusion - poor bite. Dr. Levenson applies advanced diagnostic techniques and years of clinical experience to identify these underlying issues at the root of headaches. Correction may be as simple as wearing a night guard, an oral appliance that balances the bite and relieves strain on the jaw joint. Old, worn, or ill-fitting dental restoration (fillings, crowns, bridges, or dentures) may need adjustment or replacement. In some cases, Invisalign orthodontics brings long-term relief, as well as a more attractive smile.
Nighttime breathing issues that contribute to headaches can also be addressed with a dental approach. Custom-fitted oral appliance therapy keeps the airway clear during sleep, dramatically reducing or resolving obstructive sleep apnea and snoring. It may also improve breathing restrictions from allergies and sinus congestion.
It is hard to keep a smile on your face when your head hurts. Unforgettable smiles start with a call to Levenson Smile in Worcester (855) 849-8255 for effective treatments for headaches.