Migraines & Dentistry

An estimated 39 million Americans suffer from headaches or migraines regularly. That’s about 12% of our population that experience these often debilitating, painful, and difficult-to-treat neurological conditions. However, even though this is such a widespread problem, there’s still the need for more research to determine just what causes a headache or migraine, how to prevent them and treat them, and eventually, how to cure them. That’s why every June, medical professionals, including your dentist in Boerne, join together to raise awareness and increase education about headaches and migraines during National Migraine & Headache Awareness Month

How to Differentiate Between a Headache and Migraine

Oftentimes, the terms headache and migraine are used interchangeably. However, they are technically two separate conditions and present themselves with similar, yet different, symptoms. Both conditions involve pain in the head and it can either be a throbbing or dull pain in both. But there are a few differences in other symptoms that can help identify whether you have a headache or a migraine.  

Headache Symptoms

  • Pain is usually spread throughout the head
  • Pain remains consistent and doesn’t tend to worsen with activity
  • Usually has the feeling of constant pressure 
  • Symptoms are localized to only the head

Migraine Symptoms

  • Pain usually affects one side of the head more than the other, but not always
  • Sensitivity to light and noise
  • Blurry vision
  • Nausea
  • Aura symptoms such as blind spots, zig-zag lines, or shimmery, glowy patches

Are Migraines and Headaches Related to Dentistry?

We know that it may seem odd to have your dentist in Boerne talk about conditions that seemingly only affect the head, but the truth is, there may be a connection between chronic headaches and migraines and dentistry. After all, the head is connected to the neck which is connected to the jaw, and there are muscle groups connected to each, so it’s certainly worth a closer look. 

Numerous studies have shown a potential correlation between a poor bite as well as habitually grinding or clenching teeth and an increased risk of chronic headaches or migraines. When someone has a poor bite or constantly grinds their teeth together, the muscles in the jaw joint are under constant and abnormal pressure and may cause a painful condition known as TMD (or TMJ). But the pain may not end at the jaw joint alone. As we’ve mentioned earlier, the head, neck, and jaw are all connected through a complex system of muscles, so when pain affects one section, it can also spread to affect other areas, such as the head. The theory researchers are studying regularly is that this constant muscular pressure may just cause certain headaches or migraines. 

We always encourage migraine and headache sufferers to talk with their primary care physician, as well as their dentist in Boerne, to see if their pain may be caused, or a least exacerbated by, something related to their oral health. Additionally, there is no concrete cause of migraines or headaches, so intervention from your medical team is necessary to diagnose just what may be causing your individual migraines or headaches in order to determine how to treat them effectively. 

Do I Have Bruxism?

Bruxism is just a medical term for grinding or clenching your teeth, usually while you’re asleep. That’s what makes teeth grinding hazardous to your oral and overall health, because there’s a good chance you don’t even know you’re doing it! Our dental office in Boerne is here to help you learn more about bruxism and the damage it can do to your smile. We want to help you recognize the early warning signs of teeth grinding and help you protect your teeth from damage.

The American Sleep Association suggests as many as 10 percent of adults and 15 percent of children are affected by bruxism. Teeth grinding or clenching is more common when there’s a family history of the disorder, with rates soaring to as high as 50 percent. Both males and females are similarly affected by bruxism.

Are There Common Signs of Bruxism?

There’s a reason why your dentist in Boerne may be the first person to recognize signs that you grind your teeth, because that’s what’s damaged the most by bruxism. When most people grind their teeth, their canines and incisors come together with great force, damaging your enamel and the structure of your teeth. Other symptoms of bruxism include:

Jaw joint pain or discomfort

– Facial pain

– Headaches or migraines

– Jaw muscle contractions

– Broken restorations

– Tooth sensitivity

– Enamel loss

– Damaged gums

Why Do I Have Bruxism?

There are a few reasons our patients develop bruxism or teeth clenching. It’s most commonly caused by a combination of anxiety or stress. People who are agitated or stressed are more likely to grind the night away and not even be aware they’re doing it. In most cases of bruxism, a person isn’t even woken up by the sound of their teeth grinding together. Having a misaligned bite, side effects from medications, and some medical diseases can also cause bruxism.

Is there something not right about your smile? Are you concerned that you’re grinding your teeth? The best way to help yourself is to call our Boerne dental practice to schedule a consultation. We can give you a comprehensive, thorough exam, learn more about the symptoms you’ve been experiencing, monitor your bite, and get a more in-depth look using state-of-the-art x-rays. From there, we’ll be able to see what kind of shape your teeth are in, address the severity of your teeth grinding, and put together a personalized treatment plan for you. We want you and your smile to stay healthy and be pain-free!

What’s Occlusion and Should You Worry About it?

You may have heard us talk about your “occlusion” during your visits to our dental office in Boerne. But what exactly are we talking about when we speak about occlusion? Is it something you should worried about? Let’s take a closer look at what occlusion means and examine a few concerns that are related to it.

What is Occlusion?

Occlusion is just a fancy, scientific name dentists use to describe the bite, or how the upper teeth match up against the lower teeth when the mouth is closed or while chewing. You may have heard several ways we tend to classify a “bad bite” including overbite or underbite. All of these types of occlusion can lead to unique problems that should be corrected by a dental professional.

In More Detail: Crossbites, Overbites, and Underbites

There are a variety of bite problems that happen, but in this blog we’re going to examine the three most common.

  • Crossbite
    • Signs: A crossbite is usually suspected when one or more of the upper teeth fall behind the lower teeth when the mouth is closed.
    • If left untreated: Crossbites can lead to premature wear and tear of the teeth, gum disease, bone loss, asymmetrical jaw development, and jaw problems (known as TMJ or TMD).
  • Overbite
    • Signs: When the mouth is closed and the molars are touching, if the front top teeth completely cover the bottom front teeth, there’s a good chance an overbite is to be blamed.
    • If left untreated: An untreated overbite can inhibit teeth from functioning properly, leave the person at increased risk for gum disease and other gum problems, and wear down the front teeth.
  • Underbite
    • Signs: Opposite of an overbite, an underbite is when the lower teeth fall in front of the top teeth when biting.
    • If left untreated: Underbites usually result from either undergrowth of the upper jaw, overgrowth of the lower jaw, or both. If not corrected, teeth may not be able to function properly and can lead to painful TMJ/TMD issues.

If you suspect any potential issues with your bite, we welcome you to call our Boerne dental office to schedule an appointment. We would be happy to help you to determine what, if any, treatment would be appropriate to correct the bite for a healthy, pain-free smile that lasts a lifetime.

Are Lip & Cheek Biting Actually Bad for You?

You know the feeling. You’re happily chewing away on your lunch, talking with a coworker when all of a sudden, you hear a crunch. You feel the pain. You realize you’ve just bit your cheek (or lip, or tongue — doesn’t really matter, it all hurts!). This painful accident can be an ongoing problem for many. At our dental office in Boerne, chronic biting of any tissues in the mouth can be concerning. Let’s look at why.

Why is it Bad?

Besides the obvious reason of it hurts, there are a few additional concerns of biting the lips and cheeks. Following a bite, usually a sore appears and lasts a few days. While this isn’t concerning for the occasional nip, if biting is an ongoing problem, sores can become infected. Any infection in the mouth is concerning itself, especially if left untreated.

Why Do We Do it?

Like we’ve previously mentioned, most of the time a bite is accidental and only happens occasionally. If this is the case, there’s probably no reason to be worried. However, when lip or cheek biting becomes a chronic thing, there are a few possible explanations. Most commonly, constant biting is a nervous habit or even done out of boredom, like biting your nails. Other times, there’s an anatomical explanation. If bites are a recurring thing and it’s not because of nervousness, there’s a possibility malocclusion, or a bad bite, is causing the trouble. When the teeth don’t close together neatly, the chance of a cheek or lip getting in between them is high. Additionally, malocclusion can lead to its own problems like headaches, jaw pain, TMJ (temporomandibular disorder), and shifting teeth.  

How To Stop

You don’t have to continue to live with the pain and annoyance of constant biting. Try following the tips below:

  • Know your triggers. If your lip or cheek biting is a result of stress or nerves as opposed to a bad bite, start paying attention to when you’re doing it and work to either avoid those triggers or work to consciously stop yourself when the trigger is unavoidable.
  • Enlist the help of friends. There’s a chance you bite more often than you realize, so ask friends to point out when you’re doing it so you can work to stop it.
  • Visit your dentist. If your biting isn’t habitual and your alignment may be an issue, talk with your dentist in Boerne.

Don’t have a dentist to talk to? Give our Boerne dental office a call to schedule an appointment. We’re always happy to help, no matter what your concern may be.

Welcoming patients from Boerne, Fair Oaks, The Dominion.