Headaches can occur for different reasons, and most of us have experienced them on occasion. If you have headaches that persist or interfere significantly with your daily activities, your doctor may prescribe medication to help. But in some cases, when medication isn’t completely effective, your dentist may be the key to relief.
What kinds of headaches are there, and how are they treated?
The National Headache Foundation lists more than 20 different types of headaches on its Complete Headache Chart. The list includes migraines as well as headaches caused by allergies, hunger, sinus issues, tension, and more. Many—but not all—of these respond well to treatment with prescription medications.
How common are headaches?
They’re common, and they’re a serious concern. According to the World Health Organization, over one third of adult men and half of adult women in developed countries suffer tension headaches, the most common type. The WHO estimates that one in 20 adults experiences some type of headache every day, and that throughout the world, one in every seven adults suffers migraines. Besides the way migraines negatively affect sufferers’ quality of life, studies suggest that this health issue can cost American workers and employers billions of dollars every year in lost productivity.
How can my dentist help?
In some cases, headaches are a symptom of conditions that specially trained dentists can frequently treat using comfortable and non-invasive techniques. But those who have these issues don’t always realize it. These conditions include:
- Bruxism (teeth grinding)
- Sleep apnea
- Tinnitus (an occasional symptom of TMJ disorders)
- TMJ disorders
Depending on your case, potential treatments for these conditions may include oral appliances such as a day and night appliance, an ALF appliance, or a Myobrace®. Some dentists may also be able to offer cold laser therapy to alleviate pain. Cold laser therapy is safe, non-invasive, and painless; read more about it here.
If you have persistent headaches, tell your dentist!
Even if you don’t suspect that an underlying dental condition might be causing your discomfort, tell your dentist. An accurate diagnosis and effective treatment of the root cause of headaches begins with communication. A knowledgeable dentist will check carefully, and will create a treatment plan or refer you to a specialist as appropriate. You don’t have to suffer!