Going to the dentist to treat my headaches? What? I know what you are thinking. The dentist just treats teeth, how could a dentist help me treat my headaches? Surprisingly, though, a dentist may be just the healthcare professional that can help treat your headaches depending on the etiology of your headaches. For example, trauma to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), the joint that connects the maxilla (upper jaw) to the mandible (lower jaw) may lead to headaches. The TMJ may be traumatized from nocturnal bruxism (teeth grinding), oral disease, a malocclusion (bad bite) or newly placed dental work. Many dentists are trained to treat patients suffering from orofacial pain related conditions such as headaches or TMD (TMJ disorders).
Do you clench your teeth at night?
If you do, you are not alone! Nocturnal clenching and grinding are extremely common. But why does it cause a headache? The constant stress that is placed on the facial muscles and TMJ from clenching and grinding may result in trauma to the joint and ligament. Often, TMJ related pain may present as referred pain. In other words, although the TMJ may be the source of the pain, you may actually experience neck pain, face pain or a headache.
So what does this all mean?
Treating headaches is multidisciplinary, and depending on the etiology of headaches, a dentist may be a helpful in managing and treating headaches.