You may know that maintaining dental health is very important if you are to avoid other health problems through life, but did you know that oral issues can give rise to frequent headaches, as well? These headaches may be deemed to be something known as dental occlusion. What is this, and what can be done?
An incorrect bite can lead to several jaw problems, which can, in turn, manifest headaches. Often, the joint that is in between the bottom of the jaw and the skull is out of line. This is known as the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ for short. It has to be a very flexible joint as it must move both up and down and from side to side as you chew. If your teeth are not coming together correctly when you close your mouth, they can put tremendous strain on the TMJ, leading to pain, clicking noises and even a ringing in your ears.
If your jaw is not sitting correctly in place, then the muscles will have to work overtime, especially when you're eating. When they are overworked like this, they can spasm, and these spasms are a primary cause of headaches. You may notice pain behind the eyes, lower down and towards the neck and occasionally even in the upper back.
Have you been told that you grind your teeth at night? This can be quite a serious issue as it puts tremendous strain on your teeth and jaw without you really knowing it. When you wake up in the morning, you may have sore muscles in your face and a headache caused by clenching your teeth while you're sleeping.
Getting Help from the Dentist
If you now suspect that occlusal problems may be causing your headaches, then your first step is to visit the dentist. They are trained to assess your bite and will ask you to open and close your mouth several times while they see if your teeth are sitting properly. They will also be able to see if particular teeth are worn more than they should be, indicating the bite is incorrect.
Sometimes, your teeth will need to be recalibrated so that they can move into a better position. You may have to wear braces or a special appliance. The dentist may also recommend that you wear a device at night to help protect your teeth and TMJ from grinding. It may also be possible to apply hot compresses to the affected area to relieve some of the tension.