If you have frequent headaches, you’ve likely been to just about every specialist you can find. There are so many different causes of headaches that it can be very difficult to find a satisfactory diagnosis. However, you should definitely go to a dentist. That’s especially true if your headaches occur early in the morning or if they’re accompanied by tooth or jaw pain.
The temporomandibular joint is the joint on the mandible (the lower jaw) where it connects to the temporal bone. When you clench your teeth, you put stress on this joint. That can cause a headache; if you have migraines, it could serve as a migraine trigger. If you wake up in the morning with your jaw sore and a headache, it could be caused by stressing this joint. If you go to a dentist, they’ll often be able to see signs of jaw clenching or teeth grinding. There might be signs in the musculature of the jaw or in the molars that you’ve been clenching your jaw. You might also be able to simply describe your symptoms.
The dentist will take a mold of your teeth and design an appliance to go in your mouth during the night. It’s like a retainer with a top and a bottom.
The trigeminal nerve is the largest nerve system in the head. Many types of headaches transmit pain through the trigeminal nerve; it’s also where dental pain is concentrated. Therefore, there is a significant amount of blending between dental pain and headaches.
There is evidence to suggest that people compensate for dental pain in ways that can trigger headaches. For example, they might hunch their shoulders, clench their teeth when pain hits, or try to only eat on one side of their mouths. These compensatory measures put uneven stress on different muscles and nerves throughout the head and neck. That can cause inflammation which leads to headaches.
It’s important to take note of as many factors as possible when discussing headaches. You should track what time of day they usually occur, where they are located, and anything you were doing before the headache started. You should especially track what you eat. What you eat might be a chemical trigger for a headache, but it could also be a physical trigger. Something tough like beef jerky, for example, could indicate a musculoskeletal cause in the jaw. Tell your dentist everything you can to ensure you get the help you need. If you're looking for a Caldwell dentist with experience in diagnosing these types of problems, please give our office a call today!