Teeth Problems and Headaches May Be Related

Jul 09, 2014, by Dr. Becky Coats

Patient, KK before and after
KK was generally a happy and healthy 76-year old woman. She had just two problems: her smile and her headaches. Little did she know that they were really just one problem, and they could both be fixed at the same time.

Longstanding Tooth Problems

KK had long been unhappy with the appearance of her teeth. They were crooked and discolored, with numerous cracks in them. She had never had them fixed because she thought the problem was largely cosmetic, and she was of a generation that took a very practical approach to these types of problems.

You didn’t spend money on something that was just for looks. And besides, she had her friends and family. She was well-loved and didn’t feel the need to invest in her smile.

Headaches and Jaw Pain

But along with her smile, KK suffered regular pain. She often had tension headaches and soreness in her jaw. She took muscle relaxers and painkillers, but she didn’t get relief. That is, until she fixed her smile.

Full Mouth Reconstruction Means Relief

Then KK learned that her two problems were connected. She had an unstable bite, which contributed to jaw problems known as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ or sometimes TMD). TMJ occurs when your jaw joint rests at an improper position, straining the joint itself, the muscles, the bones, and even pinching nerves in nearby tissues, which can cause additional pain and other problems, including headaches and migraines.

KK’s jaw problems were partly caused by her poor teeth. Because her teeth didn’t hold her jaw in the proper position, her jaw was unable to relax. It stayed in a constant state of tension, leading to pain in the muscles and damage to the temporomandibular joint.

Rebuilding her teeth allowed her jaw to finally find its proper resting position. Her muscle pain diminished, and her headaches, too. She was less dependent on her muscle relaxants and painkillers just to get through the day. And now she had a beautiful smile as well.

What Problems Are Associated with Your Teeth?

If you’ve been putting off getting your teeth fixed for any reason, they may be the cause of other symptoms you are suffering from but haven’t been able to pin down.

TMJ has been associated with many symptoms, but these are among the most common:

  • Jaw pain
  • Headaches, including tension headaches and migraines
  • Jaw sounds
  • Locking jaw
  • Irregular jaw motion
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Stuffiness in the ears
  • Dizziness and vertigo
  • Face pain
  • Neck pain
  • Back pain
  • Tingling in the fingers

If you have any or all of these symptoms, TMJ treatment can be used to resolve them. And it doesn’t require reconstruction of your teeth–it can be done using a removable bite appliance for most people. This noninvasive and reversible treatment lets you see how much better you can feel if your jaw is in a more ideal position. You can try out the bite appliance before committing to reconstruction of your smile.

Then if you want permanent results, a full mouth reconstruction gives you two great reasons to smile: an end to your pain and beautiful teeth to show off.