I’ve been having frequent headaches but doctors have said that there is nothing wrong. Someone mentioned that my oral health could be responsible. Is that true?
It’s good that you have asked this question because it addresses the concerns of so many people and women in particular. It’s so typical that we see patients coming in for their checkups and we see certain signs and ask the patients whether they have been having headaches.
Around one-third of children and about 20 per cent of adults are thought to have bruxism. Bruxism refers to both grinding the teeth as well as teeth clenching. Even though it can happen when you are awake, most people who have bruxism do so while asleep and therefore don’t know about it. Some are loud enough to wake up their partner, but the majority are silent so generally not even their partner would know about it.
So how can that cause your headaches? When you are awake there is a protective mechanism that prevents you from grinding too long or too hard. But when you are asleep this mechanism shuts down (think sleep mode!) and can cause you to grind on and on, night after night. This eventually causes the symptoms that most people who have bruxism usually complain of — the most common for women are headaches, usually in the temples when waking up in the morning. The headaches usually get better through the day and the whole cycle repeats itself the next morning. Sometimes clicking of the jaw joint can also be felt or heard. Its usually worse during times of stress.
In men, headaches are usually rarer but there are other signs such as worn out enamel, sensitive teeth, fillings or crowns which keep breaking or falling off and bits of teeth chipping from time to time. Very frequently, especially in men, bruxism could indicate the presence of obstructive sleep apnoea, which is a potentially more serious condition that needs intervention as soon as possible.
Nightguards are usually prescribed and custom fitted to prevent bruxism. A physician will be able to suggest the right one for your condition. It’s a good idea to have a dental checkup if you have been having continuous headaches. A dentist who knows about occlusion should be able to help.
Dr Tanveer Ahmed is an implantologist, dental surgeon and medical director at New Ivory Dental and Implant Clinic, Dubai. Got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org.