TMJ Migraine or Tension Headaches

Headaches are the most common health complaint in the world and the most common cause of medication overuse. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), headache disorders — characterized as migraine, tension-type headache and cluster headaches —    affect more than half of the world’s adult population regardless of age, race, income levels or geographical location.

In India , headaches are the number one health complaint, and an estimated 50 million people suffer from chronic headaches. Many of those sufferers experience little relief with over-the-counter pain medications and therefore struggle with a reduced quality of life – including missed work and missed school — because of the pain their headaches cause.

Neuromuscular Headaches

 

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the hinge that connects your jaw to your skull, allowing you to talk, to chew and to yawn. Other indications of TMD are a clicking or popping of the jaw joints, pain in or around the jaws, and a limited opening (or locking sensation) of your mouth.  Disorders occur when there is either an internal derangement of the joint or a misalignment, resulting in muscle tension and a host of related symptoms including headaches.

Let’s examine two of the most common forms of chronic headaches — migraines and tension headaches – and their relationship with TMJ Disorder.

Migraine headaches

A migraine is a chronic headache that is characterized by throbbing pain usually on one side of the head.  Bright light, certain sounds, smells, stress, physical activity or hormonal changes can trigger the pain, which can be severe if left untreated. Some people experience visual changes – called auras — before, during or after the headache.

More than 10 percent of the  population, including children, suffers from migraines. During a migraine, blood vessels in the head become inflamed and swollen, and doctors believe the pain is caused by the inflammation and the pressure on the walls of the blood vessels.

Many migraine sufferers do not realize that TMJ could be the cause of their head pain, so they do not mention teeth or jaw clenching or other TMD symptom to their doctors.  However, when the TMJ is misaligned, the surrounding bones, muscles and nerves are affected. An undiagnosed and untreated misalignment then can cause the muscles in your face, head and neck to strain with every movement. As a result, you may experience migraine headaches, along with accompanying nausea and light sensitivity. See our TMJ migraine symptom page for more information on the relationship between migraine headaches and TMJ dysfunction.

Tension Headaches

tension headache vice

Tension headaches are characterized by a continuous, not throbbing, pain in the forehead, temples, and/or back of the head or neck. Sufferers describe the pain as a tightening around the head or neck that can only be relieved by certain positions. Many people say a tension headache feels as if a rubber band is tightening around the head or neck.

Unlike migraines, tension headaches are not accompanied by other symptoms, such as nausea or light sensitivity, and researchers have not linked tension headaches with the same triggers as migraines. Tension headaches can occur infrequently, regularly, or daily and can last anywhere from 30 minutes to several days.

Tension headaches affect women significantly more than men and can occur at any age.  They are also normally associated with stress or fatigue, but often can have their root in physical problems involving the muscles of the jaw and neck.

“TMJ is very treatable, but if a jaw disorder is ignored, then treatment for the headache may not address all of the factors contributing to the headache.”

If you are experiencing chronic headaches, you owe it to yourself to rule out TMD as the cause of your pain and discomfort.  Neuromuscular dentists is experienced in evaluating the TMJ as a possible source of your headache pain.

By working with the pain source rather than just the pain location and by re-aligning a bad bite so that your teeth, muscles and joints work together without strain, neuromuscular dentistry frequently can relieve the pain associated with migraine headaches.

With proper diagnosis and treatment, you may avoid the dangerous cycle of an expensive and possibly harmful drug treatment regimen and, more importantly, experience life-changing pain relief.

 

Older Adults and Oral Health

Cavities: Not Just for Kids, Older Adults Also at Risk

You may think cavities are child’s play. But tooth decay is actually the most common chronic disease among those ages 65 and older.

Among the 95 percent of older adults who still have teeth, more than nine out of 10 have cavities. This includes about one-fourth who haven’t received treatment for their decay.

Reasons Seniors Live at Risk

Continue reading Older Adults and Oral Health

 

Adult dental health: Healthy aging

Did you know that gum disease – and not the aging process – is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults? Good oral health habits and a healthy lifestyle can help you keep your gums healthy and your smile bright for a lifetime. Developing a simple daily routine of brushing, flossing and eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables is important regardless of age. Here are some tips to help keep your mouth healthy and strong:

Continue reading Adult dental health: Healthy aging

 

Habits That Wreck Your Teeth

Chewing on Ice

It’s natural and sugar free, so you might think ice is harmless. But munching on hard, frozen cubes can chip or even crack your teeth. And if your mindless chomping irritates the soft tissue inside a tooth, regular toothaches may follow. Hot foods and cold foods may trigger quick, sharp jabs of pain or a lingering toothache. Next time you get the urge for ice, chew some sugarless gum instead.

Playing Sports With No Mouth Guard

Whether you play football, hockey, or any other contact sport, don’t get in the game without a mouth guard. This is a piece of molded plastic that protects the upper row of teeth. Without it, your teeth could get chipped or even knocked out when the action gets rough. Self-fitting mouth guards may be purchased at a store, or you can have one custom made by your dentist

Bedtime Bottles

It’s never too early to protect teeth. Giving a baby a bedtime bottle of juice, milk, or formula, can put new teeth on a path to decay. The baby may become used to falling asleep with the bottle in his or her mouth, bathing the teeth in sugars overnight. It’s best to keep bottles out of the crib.

Tongue Piercing

Tongue piercings may be trendy, but biting down on the metal stud can crack a tooth. Lip piercings pose a similar risk. And when metal rubs against the gums, it can cause gum damage that may lead to tooth loss. The mouth is also a haven for bacteria, so piercings raise the risk of infections and sores. Also, with a tongue piercing there is a risk of accidentally piercing a large blood vessel, which can cause severe bleeding. Bottom line, discuss the health risks with your dentist first.

Cough Drops

Just because cough drops are sold in the medicine aisle doesn’t mean they’re healthy. Most are loaded with sugar. So after soothing your throat with a lozenge, be sure to brush well. Whether the sugar comes from a cough drop or a hard candy, it reacts with the sticky plaque that coats your teeth. Then bacteria in the plaque convert the sugar into an acid that eats away at tooth enamel. Hello, cavities.

Gummy Candy

All sugary treats promote tooth decay, but some candies are harder to bear. Gummies stick in the teeth, keeping the sugar and resulting acids in contact with your enamel for hours. If your day just isn’t the same without a gummy critter, pop a couple during a meal instead of as a separate snack. More saliva is produced during meals, which helps rinse away candy bits and acids.

Grinding Teeth

Teeth grinding, or bruxism, can wear teeth down over time. It is most often caused by stress and sleeping habits. This makes it hard to control. Avoiding hard foods during the day can reduce pain and damage from this habit. Wearing a mouth guard at night can prevent the damage caused by grinding while sleeping.

 

Soda

Candy isn’t the only culprit when it comes to added sugar. Sodas can have up to 11 teaspoons of sugar per serving. To add insult to injury, sodas also contain phosphoric and citric acids, which eat away at tooth enamel. Diet soft drinks let you skip the sugar, but they may have even more acid in the form of the artificial sweeteners.

Opening Stuff With Your Teeth

Opening bottle caps or plastic packaging with your teeth may be convenient, but this is one habit that makes dentists cringe. Using your teeth as tools can cause them to crack or chip. Instead, keep scissors and bottle openers handy. Bottom line, your teeth should only be used for eating.

Sports Drinks

There’s no doubt a cold sports drink is refreshing after a good workout. But these drinks are usually high in sugar. Like soda or candy, sugary sports drinks create an acid attack on the enamel of your teeth. Drinking them frequently can lead to decay. A better way to stay hydrated at the gym is to chug sugar-free, calorie-free water.

Fruit Juice

Fruit juice is loaded with vitamins and antioxidants, but unfortunately most juices are also loaded with sugar. Some juices can have as much sugar per serving as soda. For example, there are only 10 more grams of sugar in orange soda than in orange juice. Fruits are naturally sweet, so look for juice that has no added sugar. You can also reduce the sugar content by diluting juice with some water.

Potato Chips

The bacteria in plaque will also break down starchy foods into acid. This acid can attack the teeth for the next 20 minutes — even longer if the food is stuck between the teeth or you snack often. You might want to floss after eating potato chips or other starchy foods that tend to get stuck in the teeth.

Constant Snacking

Snacking produces less saliva than a meal, leaving food bits in your teeth for hours longer. Avoid snacking too frequently, and stick to snacks that are low in sugar and starch — for example, carrot sticks

Chewing on Pencils

Do you ever chew on your pencil when concentrating on work or studies? Like crunching on ice, this habit can cause teeth to chip or crack. Sugarless gum is a better option when you feel the need to chew. It will trigger the flow of saliva, which can make teeth stronger and protect against enamel-eating acids.

Drinking Coffee

Coffee’s dark color and acidity can cause yellowing of the teeth over time. Fortunately, it’s one of the easiest stains to treat with various whitening methods. Talk to your dentist if you’re concerned about discoloration of your teeth.

Smoking

Cigarettes, as well as other tobacco products, can stain teeth and cause them to fall out as a result of gum disease. Tobacco can also cause cancer of the mouth, lips, and tongue. If you were looking for one more reason to quit, think of your smile.

Drinking Red Wine

The acids in wine eat away at tooth enamel, creating rough spots that make teeth more vulnerable to staining. Red wine also contains a deep pigment called chromogen and tannins, which help the color stick to the teeth. This combination makes it easy for the wine’s red color to stay with you long after your glass is empty.

Drinking White Wine

You might think sticking to white wine would spare your teeth. But the acids still weaken the enamel, leaving the teeth porous and vulnerable to staining from other beverages, such as coffee. Swishing with water after drinking or using toothpaste with a mild whitening agent can fight the staining effects of red and white wines.

Binge Eating

Binge eating often involves excessive amounts of sweets, which can lead to tooth decay. Binging and purging (bulimia nervosa) can do even more damage to dental health. The strong acids found in vomit can erode teeth, making them brittle and weak. These acids also cause bad breath. Bulimia can lead to a variety of serious health problems, so be sure to talk to your doctor if you have been purging.