If you get headaches, especially on a frequent basis, they could be related to your dental health. However, getting to the bottom of what’s causing your headaches may require some effort. Identifying the cause of your headaches depends on how often you get them and where the pain is located.
Many headaches do have their origins in your dental health. In this blog, Joseph Z. Yousefian of Yousefian Orthodontics for Children, Teens and Adults in Bellevue, Washington, explains more about the different types of headaches and what they have to do with your dental health.
Sometimes, headaches might be caused by referred pain. If you grind your teeth (also called bruxism), it can cause “referred” pain elsewhere in your head. Your trigeminal nerve is the largest sensory nerve in your head, and it affects sensations in all parts of your head and neck. If you clench your teeth, you automatically contract your neck muscles as well. But this may trigger other problems, including TMJ disorder.
Other causes of referred pain include problems with your sinuses, although this is rare. Symptoms of this disorder, called cavernous sinus thrombosis, include:
- A severe headache, with pain behind the eye or in the forehead
- High fever
- Weakness of eye movement
- Eyelid swelling
- Eyeball protrusion
Although this condition is rare, it does require immediate treatment. Call Dr. Yousefian if you are concerned that you may have this condition.
When TMJ disorder causes migraines
Your temporomandibular joint is like a hinge that connects to your facial muscles. When you have a disorder of this joint, or TMD, you may have many symptoms, including headaches and migraines.
The nerves, ligaments, muscles, and bones of the temporomandibular joint may affect your headaches. You may go see your general practitioner when you have headaches, when you actually need to see your dentist.
Symptoms of TMJ disorder may include:
- Pain when you open or close your mouth
- Pain in your jaw when chewing
- Pain in either side of your jaw, in the temporomandibular joint
- Aching pain in and around your ear
- Locking of your jaw
- Arthritis in the joint
- Sleep apnea
Other causes of migraines
An additional cause of migraines is having an improper bite. This can happen after you have a cavity filled or have restorative work done. It can sometimes feel difficult to tell if you have an improper bite at the time that the work is done because your mouth is numb.
If you have had recent dental work done and have noticed that your headaches are getting worse, call Dr. Yousefian right away. It’s often pretty easy to adjust your bite, especially if your bite is off due to previous dental work.
How to treat dental pain
Although you may not be able to prevent dental pain if you have TMJ, you can do certain things to avoid making it worse.
Some of the things you can do to prevent dental pain include:
- Don’t chew on pens or your fingernails
- Use a hands-free device when you’re talking on the phone to avoid putting pressure on your face
- Avoid chewing gum
- Stay away from foods that make your jaw work harder, such as sticky or crunchy foods
- Cut foods like hamburgers or apples into smaller bites so that your jaw doesn’t have to work as hard
- Be mindful of relaxing your jaw throughout the day
If you have TMJ, Dr. Yousefian has other treatments that can provide more lasting relief as well, such as Botox® injections, platelet-rich plasma injections, trigger point injections, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS.)
If you have been getting frequent headaches and haven’t found out their cause, schedule an appointment with Dr. Joseph Z. Yousefian at Yousefian Orthodontics for Children, Teens and Adults. Contact his office or request an appointment online.