Migraines and dental problems, myth or fact?


Migraines are believed to be a neurovascular disorder with evidence supporting its mechanisms starting within the brain and then spreading to the blood vessels. Many people suffer from what they perceive as “migraines.” This may or may not be true because migraines may have a vascular origin or may be hormonally induced. However muscular tension or skeletal deformities, temporomandibular joint dysfunction or malocclusion (bad bite) can cause severe headaches mistaken for migraine. These headaches can be as debilitating as migraine headaches.

Migraines are typically felt as a throbbing pain of moderate to severe severity that lasts 4-72 hours. They are usually accompanied by nausea, sensitivity to light and sounds. In some cases the headache is preceded by a visual aura, which can appear as flickering objects at the periphery of the visual field.

Some may experience a prodrome as an emotional feeling, craving for a food, or a physical sensation prior to the migraine. Women are 3 times more likely than men to have migraines and migraines can be associated with hormonal fluctuations such as occurs during menstrual periods or starting stopping birth control. Studies have shown that genetics plays the largest factor, as most people with migraines have a relative that also gets them.

What is the cause of migraine head ache?

Migraines occur when the Trigeminal nerve(fifth cranial nerve), which innervates the blood vessels and lining of the brain, becomes irritated causing a release of chemicals resulting in the pain and throbbing sensation. High levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, also known as 5-hydroxytryptamine, are believed to be involved.

The trigeminal nerve is primarily a sensory nerve, but it also has certain motor functions (biting, chewing, and swallowing). The trigeminal nerve is the largest of the cranial nerves and it is thought to be one of the factors involved in the cause of migraine. Its name - “trigeminal” - is derived from the fact that each nerve, one on each side of the pons, has three major branches:

The ophthalmic nerve (V1),

The maxillary nerve (V2) and

The mandibular nerve (V3).

The ophthalmic and maxillary nerves are purely sensory. The mandibular nerve has both sensory and motor functions. The trigeminal nerve also innervates the TMJ, jaw muscles, teeth, sinuses and joins with the nerves in the upper neck.

Because the trigeminal nerve becomes inflamed during a Migraine, and because of its location, pain may occur around eyes, in the sinus area, and the teeth and jaw. Although the headache is similar, migraines with aura appear to be brought on by different mechanisms than migraines without aura. Migraines without aura can be brought on by excessive stimulation of the trigeminal nerve as occurs in tension-type headaches, TMJ disorders, and dental pathology. Reducing the excessive stimulation of the trigeminal nerve can significantly reduce or eliminate migraines without aura. Bruxism (teeth clenching) and TMJ disorders can be potent triggers for migraines as the trigeminal nerve also innervates the jaw and jaw muscles. Therefore, in some cases migraine frequency can be significantly reduced with treatment of Bruxism and TMJ disorders. Botox into the jaw muscles and trigeminal nerve have also been shown to be effective treatment for jaw pain and migraines.

Below are a list of migraine triggers.

• Aged cheeses

• Alcohol (red wine, beer, whiskey, champagne)

• Caffeine (excess intake or withdrawal)

• Chocolate • Citrus fruits • Cured meats

• Dehydration

• Depression

• skipping meals or fasting

• Dried fish

• Dried fruits

• Exercise (excessive)

• Eyestrain or other visual triggers

• Fatigue (extreme)

• Preservatives (nitrites, nitrates, MSG)

• Bright or flickering light, sunlight

• Menstrual periods • Medications

• Excessive Noise

• Nuts

• Odours

• Onions

• Salty foods

• Changes to sleep pattern (too much, too little, other changes)

• Stress

• Weather (changing conditions)

 Migraine Headaches are not just an adult dilemma – with most people experiencing their first attack during adolescence. Migraines are experienced by people of all ages and walks-of-life – ranking it one of the world’s top 20 debilitating conditions. That being said; you’re probably wondering what your dental health has to do with Migraines – well quite a lot as tension headaches are often triggered by excessive clenching and grinding of teeth and facial muscle tension that is a result of bite dysfunction. A stabilization splint (night guard) is a custom made removable appliance that is usually worn a night time to protect teeth from clenching habits and also help relax muscles by separating upper and lower arches. Preventing top and bottom teeth from touching breaks the habit of clenching and grinding and protects teeth from wear, breakage, and force related sensitivity. Unfortunately it isn’t just teeth that become damaged as the result of clenching and grinding – gum and bone tissue are affected by the forces upper and lower teeth create when clenched together. Gum recession is a response to force and wherever gum levels have receded so has the underlying bone.

If your teeth and oral tissues are exhibiting signs of wear due to clenching and grinding – and you’re experiencing acute headaches and migraines contact Caspian Dental Clinic on 01923254979 today, we can make your headaches better.

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