Every ten seconds in America, someone goes to the emergency room seeking help for head pain. Approximately 1.2 million of those visits are for migraines.
June is National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month. The Coalition for Headache and Migraine Patients’ calendar provides links to a month of educational offerings, along with ways to help call attention to the impact of migraine and headaches, including:
- Wearing purple to work – and that includes your home workspace! - on June 1st, and sharing a pic on social tagged #MHAM and #MHAM2022
- Changing your porch light to a purple bulb during June in memory of those who have lost their lives due to chronic migraine and sharing photos tagged #MHAM and #ShineALight.
- Participating in “Shades for Migraine Day” by putting on your favorite pair of sunglasses and snapping a selfie. Please share it on your social with #ShadesForMigraine, #MHAM and #MHAM2020, and challenge three of your friends to participate.
What causes migraine and head pain?
A migraine is a common neurological disease that does not always involve head pain. For example, people with “acephalgic migraines” (also known as “aura without headache”) may experience visual disturbances, changes in smell and taste, and ringing in their ears – but no headache. Those who have “abdominal migraine” (mostly kids) experience stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting episodes but also typically do not report head pain as a symptom.
And migraines aren’t the only condition that can make your head ache. Allergies, stress, hormonal fluctuations, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems, chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, Long Haul COVID-19 and dental health issues, among other problems (there are more than 150 types of headache), can cause moderate to severe head pain.
Dental health, migraine and head pain – what’s the connection?
Research has shown that specific triggers raise the risk of having a migraine attack. These triggers vary from person to person and include bright light, changes in barometric pressure, allergies, high humidity, hormonal fluctuations, obesity, medication overuse, specific smells and foods, lack of sleep and/or high stress.
Migraine and headache pain may also be caused or significantly aggravated by a dental health issue. Some of the most common dental issues associated with headaches and/or migraines include:
- Loose, missing, or misaligned teeth create a "bad bite," which means your jaw muscles constantly have to work harder to bring teeth together, swallow and even keep your mouth closed. This can lead to persistent muscle inflammation that can trigger a migraine or headache.
- Grinding your teeth can cause muscle and gum inflammation, triggering migraines and headaches. Sore jaws, tender teeth, trouble opening and closing one's mouth, and even tongue indentations are typical signs of tooth grinding.
- Tooth decay/gum disease: A throbbing toothache and/or dental abscesses can trigger a migraine episode or cause a headache.
- TMD disorder: Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) affect the chewing muscles and/or the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Symptoms include pain and tenderness of the chewing muscles, clicking sounds when you open your jaw, and limited jaw movement. All TMD problems are “triggering or persisting factors for migraine.”
How can I stop headaches and migraines caused by dental issues?
Restorative or orthodontic treatment or simply wearing a mouth guard at night to eliminate teeth grinding can help treat migraines caused or triggered by dental health problems. It's essential to see a dentist regularly and keep your dentist informed about headaches or migraine history.
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