Headaches are troublesome and often prevent us from feeling our best. In some cases, headaches can be so debilitating that many patients find difficulty functioning day-to-day. Many patients may be surprised to learn that a headache could be a sign of an oral health problem or dental condition. In fact, many headache sufferers may have conditions such as TMJ disorder, malocclusions, and sleep apnea.
Headaches Caused by Malocclusions and TMJ Dysfunction
Dental conditions such as a malocclusion or TMJ disorder often go hand-in-hand, and many patients may develop both conditions. A malocclusion refers to a misaligned bite—often caused by tooth wear—where the top and bottom sets of teeth do not touch each other properly when the mouth is closed. Many patients with frequent headaches and a malocclusion grind their teeth. This habit called bruxism, causes headaches, too. Because the bite is improperly aligned, it often places strain on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and surrounding tissues. This can lead to headaches because the joint and facial ligaments and muscles are struggling to keep the mouth aligned in its rightful position.
To help alleviate headaches caused by these conditions, our dentist may recommend the use of crowns and other restorations to build up and restore a patient’s bite. Relaxation techniques and therapeutic massage may also be recommended to prevent discomfort associated with TMJ disorder.
Sleep Apnea and Headaches
A common sleep disorder, sleep apnea refers to the cessation of breath during sleep. Soft tissues blocking airways during the night cause this condition. To reinitiate a proper breathing cycle, the body will wake slightly. This cycle of sleeping and wakefulness can occur hundreds of times in a night, ultimately depriving the patient from restful sleep and oxygen. Many patients often wake up in the morning with headaches, normally due to low oxygen levels and sleep deprivation.
If you suffer from frequent headaches, our team recommends that you discuss your symptoms with our dental team at your next appointment. During your examination, our dentist will look for any indicators that your headaches may be caused by a dental or oral health condition.
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