An estimated 39 million Americans suffer from headaches or migraines regularly. That’s about 12% of our population that experience these often debilitating, painful, and difficult-to-treat neurological conditions. However, even though this is such a widespread problem, there’s still the need for more research to determine just what causes a headache or migraine, how to prevent them and treat them, and eventually, how to cure them. That’s why every June, medical professionals, including your dentist in Georgetown, join together to raise awareness and increase education about headaches and migraines during National Migraine & Headache Awareness Month.
How to Differentiate Between a Headache and Migraine
Oftentimes, the terms headache and migraine are used interchangeably. However, they are technically two separate conditions and present themselves with similar, yet different, symptoms. Both conditions involve pain in the head and it can either be a throbbing or dull pain in both. But there are a few differences in other symptoms that can help identify whether you have a headache or a migraine.
- Pain is usually spread throughout the head
- Pain remains consistent and doesn’t tend to worsen with activity
- Usually has the feeling of constant pressure
- Symptoms are localized to only the head
- Pain usually affects one side of the head more than the other, but not always
- Sensitivity to light and noise
- Blurry vision
- Aura symptoms such as blind spots, zig-zag lines, or shimmery, glowy patches
Are Migraines and Headaches Related to Dentistry?
We know that it may seem odd to have your dentist in Georgetown talk about conditions that seemingly only affect the head, but the truth is, there may be a connection between chronic headaches and migraines and dentistry. After all, the head is connected to the neck which is connected to the jaw, and there are muscle groups connected to each, so it’s certainly worth a closer look.
Numerous studies have shown a potential correlation between a poor bite as well as habitually grinding or clenching teeth and an increased risk of chronic headaches or migraines. When someone has a poor bite or constantly grinds their teeth together, the muscles in the jaw joint are under constant and abnormal pressure and may cause a painful condition known as TMD (or TMJ). But the pain may not end at the jaw joint alone. As we’ve mentioned earlier, the head, neck, and jaw are all connected through a complex system of muscles, so when pain affects one section, it can also spread to affect other areas, such as the head. The theory researchers are studying regularly is that this constant muscular pressure may just cause certain headaches or migraines.
We always encourage migraine and headache sufferers to talk with their primary care physician, as well as their dentist in Georgetown, to see if their pain may be caused, or a least exacerbated by, something related to their oral health. Additionally, there is no concrete cause of migraines or headaches, so intervention from your medical team is necessary to diagnose just what may be causing your individual migraines or headaches in order to determine how to treat them effectively.