Every June is recognized as National Migraine & Headache Awareness Month and serves to increase awareness of migraines and headaches, as well as to recognize them as truly neurological diseases that are often debilitating. But what, exactly, is your dentist in Belle Fourche doing talking about a neurological disease? Aren’t dentists only focused on oral health? Well, the truth is, while dentists are responsible for helping people maintain good oral health, there are also connections between oral health and other areas of the body, including headaches and migraines.
Quick Migraine Facts
Migraines and headaches are one of those invisible ailments that can affect anyone without others ever knowing there’s a problem. In fact, migraines, in particular, are so abundant that over 39 million Americans suffer from them regularly, including 18% of U.S. women, 6% of men, and 10% of children. There’s also no known cure for all migraines, and they can vary in severity, as well as symptoms, from person to person. Because of this, migraines are often treated through either lifestyle changes, medications, or a combination of both. However, even though symptoms can differ, there are some that are most common including:
- Throbbing or aching pain in the head
- Sensitivity to light and noise
- Blurred vision
- Neck pain
When migraine sufferers experience these symptoms, they’re often severe and cause people to miss work or even get out of bed.
Migraines & Dentistry
Just as there’s no one cure for all migraines, there’s also no one cause for them either. They can be caused by too much serotonin that’s released as a result of too much stress, certain foods, bright lights, loud noises, certain smells, and sometimes, even the weather is blamed. But more recently, researchers have explored a connection between migraines and dental health, specifically someone’s bite or habitual teeth grinding (bruxism) or clenching. Join your dentist in Belle Fourche as we take a closer look at each one of those possibilities.
Poor Bite & Migraines
When we talk about a poor bite, we’re referring to the way your top teeth and lower teeth come together. An ideal bite occurs when the upper teeth fit slightly and nicely over your lower teeth, and your back molars fit together almost like a puzzle when you close your mouth and bite your teeth together from the back. However, when the top and bottom molars don’t fit together well or if there’s too much or not enough overlap of the rest of the teeth, you may have a bad bite. A bad bite can place undue pressure on the muscles in the jaw, neck, and at the base of the skull every single time the jaw is placed together, which is countless times per day. Over time, these muscles tire out and essentially can never fully relax. This may present itself in the form of a migraine or severe headache.
Bruxism & Migraines
Constantly clenching or grinding your teeth can similarly tire out the muscles in the jaw, neck, and base of the head, and the result, again, can be a painful headache or migraine. To make matters worse, bruxism or clenching is often done subconsciously or during sleep, and many don’t even realize it’s a habit they have. This can make it particularly difficult to both diagnose and treat.
As we’ve mentioned before, there is no absolute cause of migraines or headaches, but a bad bite or bruxism may be a contributing factor.
Your dentist in Belle Fourche, as well as the entire medical community, always encourages those suffering from chronic headaches or migraines to seek out a proper diagnosis and to find a treatment that works for them. But thanks to advancements in medicine, there are new and improved treatments available every day.