Oh My Aching Head! Your Headaches Could Be a Dental Problem
If you or a family member suffer from recurring headaches, you know how painful and disruptive it can be to your life.
But did you know that some headaches can be caused by underlying dental problems? At Kellerman Dental, we treat many patients from our Edwardsville and Glen Carbon community who are dealing with dental headaches.
What Can Cause a Dental Headache?
Most dental headaches are classified as tension headaches, and they result from muscular tension that builds up through your jaw or face. Frequently, this tension is a symptom of malocclusion – the technical term for a bad bite.
A bad bite can result from a variety of issues, old or new, such as previous orthodontics or dental work or incoming wisdom teeth. When you have malocclusion, the chewing surfaces of your teeth do not meet along a smooth curve when your mouth is shut. This results in your jaw muscles overcompensating when you chew, which creates pain and soreness that then radiates throughout your head.
Dental Headaches Can Be Difficult to Diagnose
These types of headaches are caused by radiating pain, which can make it tough to pinpoint their cause. Your mouth, jaws and face are full of complex nerve structures, so the true origin of pain can radiate throughout the skull and cause you to feel the pain in other localized areas.
For example, the temples of your head may be experiencing discomfort, but the true origin of the pain could be the muscles of your jaw. The good news is that a bad bite can be fixed by your dentist by reshaping your teeth or wearing an orthotic that corrects your bite over time.
It Could be Bruxism or TMJ Disorder
There are a few other potential causes of dental headaches – Bruxism or TMJ Disorder. Bruxism essentially means teeth grinding, while Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorder occurs as a result of problems with the mechanism of the jaw and its surrounding muscles.
Bruxism is a habit that can develop as a child and happen involuntarily when we sleep. Grinding your teeth for hours on end puts a tremendous strain on the muscles of your jaw and face – if you wake up with headaches this could be the cause.
Typically, TMJ problems are a result of an injury to the joint. Anything from whiplash to sports trauma to opening your mouth too widely could trigger TMJ issues. If you experience “clicking” of your jaw, you should definitely see your dentist for an evaluation.
Kellerman Dental specializes in teeth and jaw misalignment issues, teeth grinding and sleep apnea treatment, so we would be happy to discuss different options for giving you relief from headaches.
One final note – aside from the headache causes described above, headaches can also be caused by more familiar dentistry issues like cavities, a tooth infection or an abscess. This is all the more reason to visit your dentist to see if your headaches may actually be coming from your mouth.
If you are having issues with headaches or other pain in your jaw or mouth, we would love to see how we can help. Please don’t hesitate to contact us to schedule a consultation with Dr. Kellerman.