When can your headaches be a dental problem?

There are more than 100 reasons for a headache-three of these are related to our mouth.

  1. Toothache
  2. Jaw joint disorder (TMJ/TMD)
  3. Biteproblems

A toothache is usually a simple fix…you and your dentist will figure out what tooth is causing the pain and then treat the tooth. Usually this fixes the problem.

With both TMJ/TMD or ifyour bite is off, the pain is harder to solve for most dentists because they aren’t looking for it.

How can I know if my headaches are because of my bite/or TMJ?

One of the first ways to see that the headache is bite related is where the pain is. Usually, pain from a bite problem is on one side of the head and involves the side of the head, neck, and shoulder muscles on only one side.

Another way to help find a bite problem is to pay attention to how you bite.

  1. Do you feel like you jaw gets pushed backward when you bite your back teeth together?
  2. Do you touch one or some of your teeth together and then have to squeeze, slide, or shift your teeth/jaw to make all the back teeth touch?
  3. Does it feel like one tooth is the first tooth to touch?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, then your bite is probably not aligned with your jaw. You can think of this like a door. When the door swings and closes, you don’t even think about it; when the door is off a little, you have to jam it closed when it rubs. This is what happens with your mouth. A tooth doesn’t let your jaw close straight so your muscles are always squeezing to close it the whole way. That’s like holding a 15 lbs. weight held out for 24 hours a day. No wonder your neck, shoulder, and head hurt.

But wait, I already had braces…aren’t my teeth straight?

Yes, your teeth are straight, but not always aligned with your jaw motion. Braces will get your teeth close, but sometimes your jaw will grow after you finish braces and this will move the teeth enough to cause problems.

What about TMJ? I’ve been wearing a bite guard.

TMJ is usually the end result of a bite problem. Your jaw has a cushion between it and the skull. TMJ is when this cushion is damaged and needs to heal properly. The best treatment is early treatment to allow proper healing. Greater damage may require surgery to repair tears or dislocation.

The bite guard you have worn is usually to protect your teeth against grinding but it doesn’t stop the problem, it only protects against damage…when you wear it.

How do I treat this?

Dr. Jergensen is trained in bite management. This is not common training. He will first do a full TMJ exam. If you have TMJ or a bite problem, he will discuss several options with you based on severity. Most will begin with a special bite guard that will let your muscles relax and stop squeezing 24/7. This is called a Kois Deprogrammer. It was invented by Dr. John Kois of Seattle, WA. Treatment after the bite guard is based on severity and may include braces, new crowns (also called caps), or selective adjustment to the teeth. The hope is to have only adjustments as this is the simplest option.

When completed, you should have a significant (more than 90%) decrease in headaches and your grinding should stop almost completely. You should not need any other bite guard after this bite management process.Call Diamond Valley Dentist in Hemet, CA at 951-458-6545 to talk with Dr. Jergensen today.

Get in Touch!

If you could use a smile pick-me-up, you've come to the right place. Contact Dr. Nathan Jergensen, your Hemet dentist at Diamond Valley Dentist today by giving us a call at 951-458-6545 or requesting an appointment online.

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