Having a headache is an awful experience.
From a mild headache to a tension migraine, headaches can be intense and traumatic. If you frequently have headaches, you know that they impact your daily life.
Trying to find out the cause of your headaches can often be an ineffective and frustrating search. This is because headaches can be caused by many things, and too commonly, the cause is misdiagnosed.
This is where getting regular checkups with your dentist in Asheville can help. Your Asheville dentist is an expert in evaluating your mouth, jaw, and teeth. Dr. Saunders can help identify problem areas that could be causing headaches.
But how does your mouth and jaw relate to a pounding headache? Here are the top causes of headaches that your dentist can help identify and treat.
Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders
Did you know that 80% of all headaches result from muscle tension?
Your jaw consists of your temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which is one of the most complex joints in your body. This gives your jaw the ability to open and close as well as to move from side to side, making you adept at chewing food.
However, this also means that your TMJ is more susceptible to problems. TMJ disorders are usually caused by other problems, some of which include:
- Arthritis of the joint
- Injury to the face, jaw, or mouth
- Misalignment of the teeth
- Teeth grinding (bruxism)
All of these are potential causes of TMJ disorders, which can be very frustrating. Their symptoms include a popping or clicking jaw, difficulty opening your mouth wide, or jaw pain.
Problems with your TMJ can cause tension in the muscles that support the joint. When there’s a reoccurring problem, over time you can begin to develop tension headaches. Unless the root cause of this problem is addressed, the headaches generally continue or may even get worse in frequency or severity.
TMJ disorders can be treated with the help of your Asheville dental practice to properly alleviate your headaches!
Bruxism is another name for teeth grinding, which is a damaging habit for your smile.
Teeth grinding puts immense pressure on your teeth, which leads to tense muscles. This, in turn, can lead to tension headaches. However, bruxism also causes a wide range of other problems in the mouth, especially if this is a practice that’s continued over time.
Grinding your teeth can lead to broken or chipped teeth, visually impacting your smile. As bruxism continues, the pressure eventually causes inflammation of the tooth’s roots which can lead to sore teeth.
Bruxism can be treated by your dentist with mouthguards as well as with stress-relieving techniques. Your bruxism may be caused by issues other then stress, such as an incorrect bite. In some patients an incorrect bite causes muscle disharmony which manifests as bruxism and potentially pain.
An incorrect bite can create many problems in the mouth. These include problems chewing food properly, pronouncing words, and creating jaw pain and tension.
When our bite isn’t properly aligned, it can create uneven wear among our teeth which can lead to enamel erosion. Once enamel is gone, it can’t be replaced and may eventually lead to tooth sensitivity and possibly cavities, further damaging teeth.
Incorrect bites may be the result of genes passed down from parents and can usually be corrected with orthodontics. If left untreated, these bites can cause muscles to strain as your body continually works to correct the problem. This leaves you with tense muscles and often, headaches.
Correcting misaligned bites is usually a simple process that can greatly help when it comes to correcting your jaw. If a misaligned bite is determined to be the cause of your headaches, fixing this problem will help alleviate your pain!
Stress takes a huge toll on our bodies in ways we often don’t realize.
Stress is often responsible for the increased risk of chronic diseases, unhealthy habits such as smoking or drinking, and yes, even headaches.
If you experience a lot of stress at work or at home, you could be creating tense muscles in your face, neck, or jaw. All of these muscles have important jobs to do. When these muscles are tense and strained frequently, they could be causing tension headaches.
Stress can also be a contributing factor in TMJ disorders, and will often make the disorder worse. Learning relaxation techniques as well as properly managing your stress can help alleviate tension headaches.
Getting an exam with your Asheville dentist can also help identify any existing problems in your jaw or if you’re grinding your teeth due to stress!
What Can You Do?
As you can see, all of these problems are related in one way or another and they can work to cause headaches.
It’s not always easy to determine the cause of a headache, but don’t overlook the dentist as someone who can help you figure out this problem.
Dentists are trained to notice abnormalities in your neck, jaw, and even face. Signs of bruxism are often evident through enamel loss and sore teeth. Odd jaw noises or jaw pain can be indicative of TMJ disorders, which your dentist can help identify and treat.
Improper bites are often apparent in early childhood and can be corrected with orthodontics as your child gets older. By identifying problems early, you minimize the chances that you or your child will experience problems later on.
Aren’t your tension headaches overdue for a checkup with your dentist? Talk to your dentist in Asheville about the symptoms you’re experiencing and where you’re feeling pain. Dr. Saunders can talk with you about any jaw problems you may have and help provide a solution.
Don’t live with tension headaches any longer. Schedule an appointment with us to see if your jaw could be the cause of the problem!