Migraines can be debilitating and even frightening. When severe pain in the head occurs, people can imagine the worst — a tumor in the brain, a pending aneurysm, etc. This can cause migraine sufferers to seek treatment through neurologists, ophthalmologist, and other medical specialists. For some, however, these migraines could be corrected with standard dental procedures, orthodontic treatment, or an oral appliance worn during sleep.
It is estimated that over 36 million people in the United States experience migraines, according to the American Migraine Foundation. While triggers may be diet, stress, sleep quality, and hydration, the organization points out that medical factors can play a significant role. (https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/understanding-migraine/what-causes-migraine/)
A key one noted relates to TMJ (jaw joint) disorders as a trigger for migraines, often one that many migraine sufferers are surprised to learn. Problems that involve the jaw joints can also lead to grinding or clenching of teeth during sleep (although migraines do not always occur in those who clench or grind). However, some people are not even aware they do so until pointed out by a dentist.
Grinding and clenching also contribute to inflammation of facial and neck muscles and gum tissues, which can set the wheels in motion for migraines and headaches. Other problems can include sore jaw joints; clicking or popping sounds that come from jaw movement; headaches that begin at the temples or behind the eyes; tender teeth; difficulty opening the mouth fully, and indentions in the tongue.
If you suffer with occasional chipped or broken teeth, this, too, can be a sign of bite misalignment and often the origination source of TMJ related problems. However, many people do not even realize their bite is ‘off.’ Therefore, the association can be frequently overlooked.
When teeth appear to be straight or crooked teeth are minimal, it is easy to dismiss bite disparities as the cause for symptoms associated with TMJ disorder. For many, these symptoms can seem unrelated to one’s teeth. For example, ear ringing or dizziness, both symptoms of TMJ disorder, seem so removed from how upper and lower teeth fit together that the connection doesn’t always register.
For those who experience headaches or migraines on one side, these are typically related to “bad bite” issues. A bad bite, or misaligned bite, occurs when the upper teeth do not meet properly with lower teeth. A bad bite can force jaw muscles to work harder to bring teeth together. This produces stress or strain when swallowing, talking, and chewing and can evolve into persistent muscle inflammation that trigger migraines or headaches.
As a neuromuscular dentist, a growing trend to treat migraines is through the use of Botox®. Botox (a name brand of botulinum toxin) is most often used to reduce fine lines and wrinkles by paralyzing the underlying muscles. In addition to its aesthetic uses, some doctors are now using it to treat migraines. Botox is believe to be effective for migraines by blocking the nerves that send pain messages to the brain and relaxing muscles in the face and neck.
FDA approval and guidelines for treating chronic migraines are based on treatments of 31 injections of sites including the bridge of the nose, forehead, temples, back of the head, neck, and upper back between the shoulder blades. FDA approval was also based on a schedule of injections every 3 months or a total of 5 treatments over 15 months. Insurance may or may not cover these injections, which can be an expensive, re-occuring undertaking when out-of-pocket. (https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/understanding-migraine/botox-suppression-chronic-migraine-commonly-asked-questionsh/)
However, in neuromuscular dentistry, we seek to resolve the problem rather than numb it for a few months at a time. For individuals who are suffering with migraines as the result of bite misalignment and/or TMJ disorder, we believe in putting a stop to the problem’s origination source. This allows many individuals the option to eliminate its trigger altogether so ongoing treatment is not needed.
Granted, the source of chronic migraines can vary from one person to the next. One’s bite alignment or jaw joints may not be an issue. When the bite and jaw joints are not migraine triggers, we wholeheartedly applaud the medical community for providing patients with effective options in treating them and helping to restore an individual’s quality of life.
How do you determine if your bite or jaw joints are the culprit? After I received advanced neuromuscular training, I researched the latest, most modern equipment available so proper diagnosis could be available right here in Shelby Township. While we have many patients who come from all over Macomb and Oakland County, we have quite a few who have traveled from all over Michigan and even out-of-state to receive appropriate, effective solutions for headache and migraine pain.
Although the diagnostic process can be rather involved (a necessary sequence of painless tests to get to the true source), treatment is often simple. In some cases, the reshaping of selected teeth may restore proper bite alignment and remove stress from the TMJ. For other patients, the placement of crowns is needed to adjust the bite to remove muscle strain. In some instances, we may advise orthodontic realignment through traditional braces or Invisalign (clear, removable aligners). Often, an oral appliance that is small and comfortable is recommended for sleep.
Having chronic migraines typically equates to a life with debilitating, unpredictable pain. Take charge of your health by understanding your options for going beyond treatment and putting this pain to rest, for good! Begin with a free consultation appointment. During this time, we’ll explain the diagnostic process and discuss ways we can resolve the problem and help you avoid future risks.
Call 586-739-2155 or tap here to schedule.