For those experiencing headaches or migraine, the culprit could be related to one’s dental health. In fact, among the known causes of head pain are dental problems such as a “bad bite,” tooth grinding, tooth decay and gum disease. June is National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month and this year’s theme, “The Art of Managing Your Headache,” highlights the many issues that can trigger even some of the most painful headaches and migraines.
“We all know loud noises, allergies, and stress can cause painful headaches. However, many people don’t realize that certain habits, dental issues, and even the condition of our oral health can worsen or even be the cause of our headaches and migraines,” said Bill Chase, vice-president of marketing for DentalPlans.com.
Below are some common dental issues that can and usually do result in headaches and/or migraines:
•Bad Bite: Loose, missing, sore or misaligned teeth may result in what is called a “bad bite,” which can make jaw muscles work harder, resulting in a constant constraint, to bring teeth together, swallow and even keep the mouth closed.
•Grinding or clenching the teeth: often due to stress or misaligned teeth, can also cause muscle and gum inflammation, triggering migraines and headaches. Sore jaws, a clicking sound when opening the mouth, a dull constant headache that originates around the temples or behind the eyes, tender teeth, trouble opening and closing one’s mouth, and even tongue indentations are typical signs of tooth grinding.
•Bruxism: the formal term for grinding teeth — often happens during sleep, and people may not know they are doing it until a partner or roommate, roused or kept awake by the sound of grinding, alerts them to the problem. Tooth grinding can also result in flattened and sensitive teeth, fractured fillings, cracked dental crowns, and chipped or broken teeth.
•Tooth Decay: Tooth decay or gum disease can “refer” pain to the head, making the sufferer believe he or she suffers from headaches rather than an oral infection. Many headaches can be due to such “referred pain,” which is experienced in another part of the body than the area that is the actual cause of the pain.
“It’s important to see a dentist regularly and to let them know if you are experiencing any headaches or migraines, or any of the symptoms mentioned above, as it may be corrected with a simple dental procedure or mouth guard or even help to identify a larger oral health issue that needs immediate attention,” said Chase.
Often times, many people may ignore the warning signs, confuse it with that of a normal headache or migraine, or avoid the dentist due to fear or the costs they feel they will incur. In fact, it is not until the issue severely worsens that many people will seek the professional help they need. By that point the damage may be irreversible or more costly and cumbersome.
“Unfortunately, when people can’t afford to see a dentist regularly, dental issues that cause headaches and other health complications can be misdiagnosed or go untreated,” said Chase. “Dental savings plans like the ones we offer can help address numerous health problems, since oral health has an impact on many diseases and medical conditions.”
Dental savings plans are an affordable alternative to dental insurance, providing plan members with discounts on most dental services. As an example, most plans available on dentalplans.com offer an average savings of 10%-60% at the dentist. Dental savings plan members pay a low annual membership fee for access to an extensive network of participating dentists and dental specialists that provide discounts on dental care at the time of service.
Dental savings plans often include discounts on services such as vision care, eyeglasses/contact lenses and telehealth care, which can also help people address common headache triggers.