Hi, I’m Dr Judith, and I’m one of the Principal Dentists here at Elevate Dental in Melbourne.
Yesterday, I was speaking with my regular patient and friend, Ben. He has been having some trouble with severe migraines for a few weeks. He has been to the GP and the chiropractor, but couldn’t find relief or a solution. That’s when his doctor recommended him to see his dentist.
What Ben is experiencing is pretty common so I thought I’d make a video to share with you if migraines can be caused by your teeth.
Headaches are so common nowadays and they can actually be caused by several different things. There are a few dental reasons why people may experience migraines.
Sometimes a headache can be triggered by an underlying tooth infection, which has a radiating type of pain that can actually move and cause pain throughout that whole side of the face.
If you’re experiencing unexplainable tooth pain, you should schedule an appointment with a dentist to check for any signs of tooth problems.
2. The second reason why people may experience migraines from a dental related problem is grinding
Now, if you grind your teeth and clench your jaws together, it’s been suggested that it can act as a trigger for headaches, especially tension-type headaches and even migraines. Most people grind their teeth at night, and most aren’t actually aware that they do it. You can clench your jaw together in times of stress even during the day or in your sleep. Also, sometimes if your jaw is in the wrong position, the muscles in which you use to move your jaw have to work harder, and they can also get tired, and that can lead to a muscle spasm type of a headache.
There are a few main causes of the grinding. Number one is stress. For example, if you’ve got a stressful period of your life, you may experience increased grinding. For example, if you’re moving house, changing jobs, things like that, that can usually create tension-type headaches over time. Number two is a lack of oxygen. This is also called sleep disorder breathing. Now, during sleep-disordered breathing, the airflow is interrupted and the amount of oxygen absorbed into your bloodstream and the lungs is reduced. As the oxygen levels drop, it actually triggers the involuntary reflex of teeth grinding and clenching. Now, sleep disorder breathing can range from simple snoring to upper airway resistance syndrome, where you may have enlarged tonsils or adenoid tissue that blocks the airway, and the more severe form of obstructive sleep apnea.
3. The third main cause of grinding could be muscle tension in the jaws and the neck
I know, for example, if you think about what you might do in your day-to-day life, is there anything that you might be doing that puts more strain on the muscles of your neck and your shoulders than your body is able to tolerate? For example, these days, working from home, if you’re on a computer all day that can make a difference in the way those muscles feel, which in turn can create muscle tension-type headaches. Physical therapy is usually beneficial in these cases, like ice packs and exercises and routines that can help strengthen those muscles to prevent that. Sometimes if your head position is altered by the tension in those muscles, it can alter the way your teeth bite together. That in turn can also trigger clenching and grinding, and you can get headaches towards the end of the day or when you wake up in the morning as well.
So what can you do if you’re suffering from migraines?
The first thing you could do is to reach out to your doctor and dentist to find out the main cause of the grinding. We want to find out whether it’s because of stress or muscle tension. Quite often a common treatment for grinding is wearing a dental night guard or an occlusal splint. And if you’re wondering, that’s actually what we recommended Ben to have. He had a custom made night guard, and he was so happy because a few days after he had it made and was wearing it at night, the migraines disappeared immediately, and he was so grateful.
So, that’s one of the possible treatment options that you’ve got. But, at the end of the day, it comes down to figuring out exactly what’s triggering that and what we can do to actually prevent it or to protect the teeth and prevent the pain.
Here at Elevate Dental, we offer same-day emergency appointments and we’d be happy to go through your treatment options and give you advice on how to fix your teeth.