Around one billion people around the world regularly experience a migraine. Of these, some 39 million are in the United States. Migraines can range from being uncomfortable to being extremely painful. How do you treat your migraines? You might take pain relief to ease the symptoms, and chances are that you've discussed the matter with your doctor. But what about your dentist?
Dental Problems and Migraines
There's a great deal of mystery when it comes to what actually causes migraines. This is perhaps surprising when you consider just how common they are. Dentists can't always help with migraines, but they can assess whether any dental problems you might be experiencing could be contributing to your migraines. So how can a migraine have originated in your mouth?
Jaw Muscles and Joints
Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) is a condition that affects your jaw muscles, along with the joints that connect your jaw to the rest of your skull. It's your temporomandibular joint that permits most functions of the jaw, including the essential basics such as talking and chewing. When this joint and the associated muscles become strained, the pain can be felt in your jaw and face, and can even migrate to your head. This is why some recurrent migraines can be traced back to untreated TMD. How is TMD actually treated though?
Misalignment of Your Bite
In terms of dentistry, TMD can be addressed by correcting any misalignment of your bite. This is why a dentist might suspect that a patient with a misaligned bite could relate their regular migraines back to this dental issue. The best treatment can differ, and an intra-oral appliance such as a custom made night mouthguard can be sufficient for some patients, as it comfortably holds the teeth in the ideal position, as far as your jaw muscles and temporomandibular joint are concerned.
Other patients might not need a mouthguard when the reason for the misalignment of their jaw is obvious. Missing teeth can cause your upper and lower jaw to close in an incorrect configuration, but replacing these teeth (with a dental implant, dental bridge, or dentures) can realign the jaw. Sometimes the very development of the teeth were misaligned, and in this case, orthodontic braces or a transparent aligner system can correct the misalignment.
Although treating TMD will not conclusively eliminate your migraines, it can sometimes help to minimize them, so the next time your migraine flares up, consider talking to your dentist.