At Evergreen Dental, Dr. Travelstead wants all of our patients to enjoy a greatlooking smile that lasts a lifetime. While it’s easy to think of our oral health as only relating to our teeth and gums, there are potential connections between our oral and overall health that may actually surprise you. In recent years, a growing amount of research has found that individuals with tooth decay and gum disease have a higher risk for developing a range of health problems that include everything from heart disease and stroke to diabetes and dementia.
These growing connections make taking care of the long-term health of our smiles especially important, as research continues to find new evidence that links our oral health to a variety of medical conditions. One such new report has found evidence to suggest that poor oral health may help to trigger migraine attacks.
A New Trigger for Migraines
Over a billion people around the world, including more than 36 million in the U.S. alone, suffer from migraines, according to the American Migraine Foundation. Those who experience migraines know that a long list of factors can trigger an attack, including bright lights, allergies, high humidity, a change in barometric pressure, hormonal fluctuations, specific foods and smells, lack of sleep, and stress.
But now the results of a new study suggests that migraines may also be caused by poor oral health. According to the study, the most common dental issues linked to headaches and migraines include:
- Bad bite: Smiles that feature missing, loose, sore, or misaligned teeth create a bad bite that forces jaw muscles to work harder to bring teeth together, swallow, and even to keep the mouth closed. This can lead to consistent muscle inflammation that can trigger a migraine or headache.
- Teeth grinding or clenching: Clenching and grinding can also lead to muscle and gum inflammation, triggering headaches and migraines. Unfortunately, most people don’t know they grind their teeth, as the habit is often done unconsciously or while asleep. Sore jaw muscles, a clicking sound when opening the mouth, a constant dull headache that seems to come from around the temples or behind the eyes, sore teeth, trouble opening or closing the mouth, and biting the tongue are all potential signs of teeth grinding.
- Tooth decay and gum disease: Tooth decay and advanced gum disease can “refer” pain to the head, making it seem like they’re experiencing a headache rather than tooth pain. A throbbing toothache can also trigger a migraine.
Some dentists who participated in the study reported observing that patients who sited experiencing “one-sided” migraines or headaches often had issues with bad bite. Patients who experience symptoms like these should make it a point to regularly schedule exams and cleanings with Dr. Travelstead, while also keeping our team at Evergreen Dental informed about their migraine history. It’s possible these issues could be corrected with a rather minor dental procedure or with the nightly use of an oral mouth guard.
Protecting Your Oral & Overall Health
As this latest study shows, our oral health matters in ways we may not even realize. As a result, it’s vital that patients make preventative dental care a routine part of their daily lives. Making a commitment to brushing at least twice a day and flossing daily can significantly improve the long-term health of your teeth and gums.
Of course, enjoying the best oral health possible also means scheduling regular exams and cleanings with Dr. Travelstead and the rest of our team at Evergreen Dental. Regular exams provide Dr. Travelstead with the chance to spot the signs of dental disease early on while still easily treatable, while frequent cleanings significantly lower your risk for decay and gum disease.
Your oral health matters. Contact our office today to schedule your next appointment.