Headaches- are generally classified into several basic types: Sinus, Cluster, Tension and Migraine. While headaches are typically treated by your doctor, improper occlusion (bite) may play a significant role in certain types of headaches as well as other head and neck pain.
Headaches and your bite- the muscles of the temple area of the forehead are muscles that play an important part in the posturing and closing of the jaw. If your occlusion (bite) is not right, it can lead to abnormal tension in these muscles- one of the several possible causes of tension type headaches.
If the bite is not corrected, the muscles may remain tense for long periods of time. The contracted muscles does not get a chance to rest and soon suffers from poor circulation- thus a lack of needed oxygen and the accumulation of waste products of metabolism. The result can be pain (headache).
Determining if the bite is the cause- Based on a physical examination and new technology that allows your dentist to evaluate the state of these muscles, your dentist can rule in or out if your bite is a possible cause of headache pain with a high degree of confidence.
Dental Treatment of Headaches–
If the indications are that your bite is a major factor, your dentist may recommend provisional or interim treatment. This involves fabrication of a custom made orthotic. An orthotic is a plastic appliance that is worn over your teeth to adjust your bite to a correct relationship.
At this point, nothing permanent is done to alter your teeth or your bite. You would wear this appliance for a period of time to make sure the new bite position is correct before any consideration would be given to permanently altering your bite.
After having worn the provisional appliance for some time, both you are your dentist will know for sure if the new bite position has resolved the headache problem. If it has, you will have several options open to you for long term treatment.
Some of the options may include dental treatment to permanently alter your bite to the new position, fabrication of a more permanent type of orthotic, or using a TENS device to relax the muscles at times that the headaches are most bothersome.
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