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THE PROBLEM | HEADACHES
Do you have frequent headaches?
Although everybody suffers headaches from time to time, the nature and causes of headaches vary greatly.
People suffering from severe or chronic headaches, especially when they are of sudden onset, should seek medical attention to rule out any serious illness or life-threatening condition.
Headache is pain that occurs in the head and upper neck region of the body. Whatever the specifics may be, headaches are extremely common. About seven out of 10 Americans will have one this year. Over 45 million people in the United States suffer from chronic headaches, which are headaches that return with some frequency.
There are several types of headaches; in fact, 150 diagnostic headache categories have been established.
New research has uncovered more of the mysteries of the causes or sources of headaches. The way muscles and bones move above the shoulders differs significantly from the other extremities in many respects. This is an area where right and left nerves, muscles, and vessels must work together. This is essential because the right and left tissue systems are affecting movements of single bones, in essence the mandible (lower jaw and the cranium (skull). The result of restoring normal physiologic parameters to unbalanced systems was sustained pain.
One type of headache, tension headache is by far the most common – estimated by some to be the cause of as much as 90% of all headaches. Further, they are headaches that often originate in, or pain is referred to, the muscles of your forehead. These muscle contraction headaches cause mild to moderate pain and come and go over a prolonged period of time.
People with tension headaches commonly report these symptoms:
The muscles of the temple area of the forehead are muscles that play an important part in the posturing and closing of the jaw. If your occlusion (bite) is not right, it can lead to abnormal tension in these muscles – one of the several possible causes of tension type headaches.
If the bite is not corrected, the muscles may remain tense for long periods of time. The contracted muscle does not get a chance to rest and soon suffers from poor circulation – thus a lack of needed oxygen and the accumulation of waste products of metabolism. The result can be pain (headache). For this reason, it is a good idea to talk to us about your headaches. We can treat them more effectively than anyone else.
New technology now allows us to objectively evaluate the state of these muscles and various other factors that may be affecting your bite. Based on this and other information obtained from physical examination, we can rule in or rule out your bite as possible cause of headache pain with a high degree of confidence.
Sinus headaches: Sinus headaches are associated with a deep and constant pain in the cheekbones, forehead, or bridge of the nose. The pain usually intensifies with sudden head movement or straining and usually occurs with other sinus symptoms, such as nasal discharge, feeling of fullness in the ears, fever, and facial swelling.
Cluster headaches: The least common – although the most severe – type of primary headache, the pain of a cluster headache is intense and may be described as having a burning or piercing quality that is throbbing or constant. The pain is so severe that most cluster headache sufferers cannot sit still and will often pace during an attack. The pain is located behind one eye or in the eye region, without changing sides. The term “cluster headache” refers to headaches that have a characteristic grouping of attacks. Cluster headaches occur one to three times per day during a cluster period, which may last two weeks to three months. The headaches may disappear completely (go into “remission”) for months or years, only to recur.
Migraines: Migraine headaches are usually intense and throbbing, often involving one side of the head, although they can affect the entire head. As is the case for tension headaches, the cause of migraine headaches is still being researched. There is some thought that an imbalance in the nervous system, especially in the trigeminal nerve, may trigger dilation and inflammation of blood vessels in the head. This dilation and inflammation is responsible for the pain experienced during a migraine. Many times, they are associated with light or sound sensitivity and occasionally with nausea and vomiting. Women are nearly three times more likely to have a migraine than men, with 17 of women experiencing a migraine during their lifetime. Migraine headaches can occur with or without an aura, a group of symptoms that occur before a headache starts.
Headaches that do not fall into any of the other categories, but are frequent enough to mention separately include: rebound headaches caused by overmedication, medicine withdrawal sinus headaches, and organic headaches caused by tumors or aneurysms.
All headaches that are not related to major organic disorders may be amenable to treatment by neuromuscular dentistry. Migraines can frequently be made less severe and less frequent by treating the neuromuscular triggers. Some patients treated by neuromuscular dentistry for migraines may still have aura without pain, or pain intensity may be decreased eliminating or reducing medication required. Some migraines can be eliminated if the trigger is related to the craniomandibular system.
Headache is just one symptom that may be attributable to poor occlusion (or a bad bite). Other symptoms such as pain or noise in the jaw joint, facial pain, sensitive teeth, difficulty chewing, and neck pain may also be related to your occlusion, and should be discussed with your dentist.
We can help you!
Neuromuscular dentistry addresses headaches by eliminating many of the underlying causes and reducing the total noxious neural input.