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Sacramento Dentist Explains: 4 Reasons For Chronic Headaches

By May 30, 2024June 6th, 2024Headaches
Man sits with hand to head, wincing from headache pain.

Did you know that dental problems can often be the root cause of headaches? The alignment of your jaws and the health of your teeth play a significant role in facial pain. This post delves into four common reasons for chronic headaches: Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD), tooth clenching and grinding (bruxism), dental infections, and malocclusion. Our esteemed Sacramento Dentist, Dr. Mickiewicz (also known as Dr. Mick), can effectively treat these issues. 

Dr. Mickiewicz, a renowned dental and orofacial pain management expert, is here to help. If you’re experiencing frequent headaches, it’s crucial not to ignore them. They could be a sign of an underlying condition. Call (916) 469-9178 to schedule an appointment and discuss your symptoms with Dr. Mick. Remember, while occasional headaches are common, it’s not normal for them to reoccur regularly. We consider headaches chronic when they happen for at least 15 days per month for at least three months. In other words, two or more headaches per week are considered chronic. If this describes your experience, schedule your appointment with Dr. Mick today and keep reading to learn these four reasons why you may suffer from chronic headaches. 

  1. Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD)

If your chronic headaches are accompanied by jaw pain and clicking or popping sounds, they may be caused by a Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD). TMD is any condition affecting the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and surrounding muscles. Misalignment of the joint or excessive stress in the jaw often leads to the buildup of muscle tension in the face. As jaw muscles get overworked, it’s not uncommon to experience headaches, particularly throughout the temples and forehead. This pain may even extend to your back and shoulders. Minimal range of motion in the jaw, ringing in the ears, and difficulty chewing are further signs of a TMD. 

What can your Sacramento dentist do about your condition? Dr. Mickiewicz has dedicated his career to helping patients overcome painful conditions, including TMD, by strategically applying multiple conservative treatment methods. Many patients experience significant relief with the aid of a custom oral appliance. These devices can alleviate pain by helping to correct jaw alignment. Trigger Point Injections (TPI) and physical therapy are also known to help patients suffering from TMD. Dr. Mick can also work with you to identify behavioral changes and stress management techniques to help improve the condition of the temporomandibular joint.

  1. Bruxism (tooth clenching and grinding) 

Tooth clenching and grinding, or bruxism, can cause chronic headaches. But why do we grind out teeth in the first place? For many patients, this unconscious behavior results from emotional stress and anxiety. Unfortunately, bruxism can lead to another kind of stress: tension and fatigue in the facial muscles. As this tension builds, so can headaches. 

Dr. Mickiewicz employs various methods to treat bruxism. These treatments can provide headache relief while also helping to prevent tooth damage. One such treatment is a mouthguard, also known as a night guard or dental splint. These devices help reduce the severity of bruxism by holding the patient’s jaw in a more suitable position while they sleep. As the Sleep Foundation explains, this allows the masseter muscles or chewing muscles to relax throughout the night—a critical factor in preventing further headaches. 

  1. Dental Infections 

While it may surprise you, tooth decay and gum disease can be the root causes of chronic headaches. An excess of harmful bacteria in the mouth can cause infections, leading to numerous painful symptoms, including headaches, toothaches, sensitivity to hot or cold, swollen or bleeding gums, and bad breath. If you are experiencing these symptoms, scheduling an appointment with your dentist is essential. 

Dr. Mick will choose a treatment method appropriate to the severity of your current condition.  Dental fillings can treat minor to moderate cavities. This standard procedure involves removing decaying portions of the tooth. Once the dentist removes all infected portions, the cavity is filled with long-lasting material that helps prevent further decay. Teeth with more extensive damage may need dental crowns. Crowns are custom-made caps that cover the remaining healthy portion of a tooth, creating a natural look and helping to prevent damage to the root. Once the root of a tooth becomes infected, root canal therapy may be required.  

  1. Malocclusion (misalignment of teeth and jaws)

Misalignment of the teeth and jaws, known as malocclusion, can cause headaches, muscular strain, and joint stress. An imbalanced bite can result in the overuse of specific jaw muscles, leading to fatigue and orofacial pain. Malocclusion can lead to additional complications such as difficulty speaking, chewing, and even struggling to keep the mouth closed. 

The National Institute of Health reports that while the causes of malocclusion are not yet fully understood, science has identified several genetic and environmental factors at play. For example, disproportionate tooth size and spacing can be passed on for generations. One significant environmental factor, habitual thumb sucking, can have a long-term impact on the mouth by pushing on the teeth and jaw. 

Luckily, orthodontic treatment, including braces or clear aligners like Invisalign, can help correct malocclusion. Orthodontic treatment is not merely aesthetic but an essential investment for overall health. If you or your child are suffering from headaches and other problems associated with dental malocclusion, don’t hesitate to talk to your dentist. Early intervention helps ensure the effectiveness of orthodontia, so seek treatment immediately. 

Call Dr. Mick Today

As we have explored throughout this post, headaches can occur due to various dental concerns, including TMD, bruxism, dental infections, and malocclusion. This is only a brief list of factors that could be causing your headaches, so consult your Sacramento dentist for a proper diagnosis. Call us at (916) 469-9178 or request an appointment online with Dr. Mickiewicz today.

We look forward to helping you find relief from your headaches so that you can get back to living a happy, healthy life.