Question: In the May issue of the Senior Living I read the article on Chronic headache sufferers not receiving optimal treatment. I also read your articles in the past on this topic. You stated in past articles that headaches may be caused by your teeth. Please explain the differences. Thank You. L.G.,Sterling Heights
Answer: It sounds to me like you have read these articles with keen interest and I would venture to guess that you are a chronic headache sufferer. If you are then you are one of the millions out there looking for answers.
The article you are referring to is sponsored by the national headache foundation. If you go their website you will notice it has links to all of the pharmaceutical companies who manufacture drugs to treat the headache, without any other treatment options listed. Often there is a dental component responsible for headaches and this is what I want to let the public know about. As you can see, the topic of headache management is controversial and I will be giving you my opinion and experience on how we, as dentists, successfully treat headaches. This is quite different from what the pharmaceutical companies want you to hear.
Drugs that are developed and promoted to physicians for headache treatment are a multi-billion dollar industry. The medications that are prescribed are basically used to treat the symptoms of the headache after the pain is experienced. Medications such as imitrex have been used to help, but only in about 50% of the cases is there resolution of the pain. I believe, and have many patients who will agree with me, that there is a better treatment available. Typically the physicians are uninformed about the dental components to headaches. In fact, I contacted 20 local medical offices and offered to give a lunch seminar on the dental option for treatment to migraines and none of them had an interest. If you are sick and tired of using drugs to cover the symptoms of your headache then this treatment may be a successful option for you!
I would like to mention that migraines should be diagnosed medically. CT scans and other tests must be performed to rule out tumors or other systemic diseases.
Tension and migraine headaches often start by the constant clenching of the jaws, especially at night. In fact, the tension-type headache patients without jaw disorders clench their jaws 14 times more intensely while sleeping than control subjects. This constant clenching and grinding overworks the jaw muscles and leads to tension, sinus and ultimately migraine headaches. Dentists who are well trained to look at the way the teeth come together can make a connection between clenching, the bite and its relationship to headaches.
In my practice we use the small FDA approved dental device called the NTI to allow only contact on the front teeth during its use. This type of bite splint is different form other bite splints as it prevents the back teeth from touching and grinding. It is by blocking the back teeth form clenching and grinding that allows the jaw muscle and joint to begin to relax. By allowing the chewing muscles to relax the tightness in the temple area goes away which ultimately resolves the headache.
This treatment has been shown to be more effective than medications.
In using this device I have been able to help many patients who were having this type of chronic pain. They inform me that their headaches have been reduced by 90%. After the patient has been pain and headache free for a couple of weeks, we will typically adjust the bite to directly treat the problem. A well adjusted and harmonious bite usually eliminates the desire to clench and grind. So wearing this device isn’t usually something that is needed for a life time.
A recent patient, who is a nurse, and has suffered with migraines, told me she hasn’t taken a pain pill since we treated her for her headache. She had been taking multiple pain pills throughout the day over the past 10 years for the headache. She is very happy to no longer need to rely on medications to get her through the day. We are so sure of the positive results that we provide a money back guarantee if you aren’t completely satisfied with the results.
For more information go to the www.HeadachePrevention.com website or call the office at (586)247-1212. You can e-mail me directly at DrAntolak@TheGentleDentist.com or visit our website at www.TheGentleDentist.com.