HEADACHES PART 2: HOW CAN A VISIT TO THE DENTIST HELP ME?

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In my last blog, I talked about the consequences daily headaches have on our daily lives, such as decreased productivity at work, and increased dependency on pharmaceutical remedies. Wouldn’t it be great if there were other, more conservative treatment options available to us?

Good news! There are many things you can do to start treating the cause of the headache, and not just its symptom of pain.

STRAIGHTEN/ALIGN YOUR TEETH: As I mentioned in my previous blog, aligning your teeth will not only ameliorate your headache issue, but it will help you in other numerous ways. You will be able to chew your food better. Maybe you’ve been unable to bite into a hearty sandwich until now because your front teeth had a huge open space (open bite). Or you were scared to eat that crusty French bread because you couldn’t incise it due to your open bite. Once your teeth are properly aligned, you’ll be able to eat anything you want to again!

Also, you’ll be able to preserve any past and future dental restorations (crowns, fillings, bridges, partial dentures) for much longer. If your teeth hit in a malaligned position, then you concentrate the forces in a pinpoint area and the you’ll wear away your enamel or filling material much faster. You’ll also start to break the porcelain off your crowns and bridges. However, when your teeth are aligned in a healthy position, you’re causing less wear and tear, and your teeth in general will last much longer!

Finally, you’ll decrease your risk of getting gum disease (periodontitis). If your teeth are crowded and malaligned, then they essentially become food traps. This food that gets trapped there, feeds the naturally occurring bacteria in your mouth, which then turns into plaque and tartar. Also, it’s much tougher for your to keep clean with flossing and brushing alone. Once tartar has formed, it travels down the root, underneath the gums. This is a chronic infection that doesn’t really cause any pain, but it eats away at the bone that houses your teeth. Also untreated gum disease is directly linked to high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, diabetes, pancreatic cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and angular glaucoma.

BOTOX TREATMENT: Although not many dentists offer this treatment option, it is a very valuable one. After all, we are responsible for your head and neck health, and that includes the oral cavity as well.

It is a non-invasive, quick treatment that can have tremendous effects on your headaches. Botox allows us to relax your muscles, so if you clench or grind your teeth, it will minimize the effects of your habit. Also, if you are a migraine sufferer, who pays up to $300 per pill in order to get migraine relief, then this treatment will definitely minimize the number of days you’ll experience migraines. And instead, you may only experience a small headache instead, or no pain at all! I have patients that were paying thousands of dollars a month to take a single pill for each chronic migraine episode. Now instead, they only use it a few times a month if at all.

ORAL APPLIANCES: Once your teeth have been aligned, be sure to complete any necessary dental restorations, and then use a custom made oral appliance, such as a retainer or occlusal guard to maintain your bite in it’s correct position. If you’re planning on having any cosmetic dentistry done, such as porcelain jacket crowns or veneers, then having an oral appliance that you use at night is imperative! All of my patients that have cosmetic dentistry completed, are always prescribed and oral appliance in order to maintain the investment they made in themselves.

So, as you can see, there are various, truly minimally invasive treatment options that, as a dentist, I can and do offer my patients. Ultimately you’ll get a straight smile and wrinkle-free younger looking appearance overall – but that is just the icing on top. My main goal is to give my patients a healthy, functional smile; and if I can help them make feel better about themselves along the way, then it’s all the more fulfilling for me.

Don’t forget to check out Part 3 of this series coming next!

Toot-a-loo,

Dr. Meli

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