June is recognized as National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month and serves to not only educate the population on this debilitating illness, but also to increase funding to advance migraine research and treatment options. While numerous causes can be to blame, our dental office in Georgetown wants to take a closer look at how migraines may be related to dentistry.
Over 39 million Americans are affected by migraines, including 18% of U.S. women, 6% of men, and 10% of children. Migraines are also rarely cured, but rather treated and managed through changes in lifestyle or medications. These treatment methods help help lessen the effects of the common migraine symptoms including, but not limited to:
- Throbbing or aching pain in the head
- Sensitivity to light and noise
- Blurred vision
- Neck pain
These symptoms are often so severe that many sufferers can’t go to work or complete everyday responsibilities when experiencing a migraine.
How Migraines May Be Related to Dentistry
Many migraines can be triggered by an excess surge in serotonin release caused by stress, certain foods, or bright lights or loud noises. However, more research has been showing a positive correlation between migraines and a poor bite or habitual bruxism (tooth grinding or clenching).
Poor Bite & Migraines
A poor bite is diagnosed when the top and bottom jaws don’t align properly. When this happens, the jaw muscles, neck muscles, and even the muscles in the base of the head experience unnecessary pressure every single time the jaws come together. Since that action is done repeatedly every day, those muscles get tired easily and inhibit the normal blood flow. The result could very well be a migraine.
Bruxism & Migraines
Bruxism is a condition that causes people to constantly clench their teeth or grind them repeatedly, sometimes while they’re asleep and don’t even realize it’s happening. This repetitive stress on the jaw muscles can lead to headaches or migraines.
If you suffer from migraines or unexplainable headaches in the morning, you may have a poor bite or clench your teeth at night. But you don’t need to continue to live in pain or without answers. Start your search towards relief by calling our Georgetown dental office today. We can check for signs of bruxism and TMJ and recommend the best treatment options for you.
You may have seen us mention the danger of metal fillings (we call them amalgam fillings) in our social media posts or even heard us mention it during an exam at your Georgetown dental office. Even though our office is GreenDoc Gold-Certified, believe it or not, the environment isn’t the only thing that we’re trying to protect by not using metal fillings. We’re also worried about your overall health.
What exactly is in an amalgam filling?
The mixture that is used in metal fillings is made up of liquid mercury and a powdered alloy mix of silver, copper, and tin. About 50% or so of the total mixture is mercury, and when that liquid mercury reacts chemically with the powdered items, it binds all those particles together to form an amalgam (hence the name).
Liquid Mercury — like in old thermometers?
YES, exactly right. Most newer non-digital thermometers use alcohol or another non-toxic substance in them, but those older ones that you remember, perhaps from your childhood, contain about .61 grams of mercury. If you break one of those thermometers, or otherwise accidentally spill liquid mercury, it rolls itself into a sphere shape (like a ball-bearing) and requires hazardous materials training to clean it up. You also have to contact the local health department to dispose of the mess, and keep people and animals out of the area for at least 24 hours. No, we’re not kidding.
YIKES. So that’s why it’s bad for my health?
That’s only one reason it’s bad for your overall health. Mercury can also leech out of amalgam fillings in the form of a vapor as it gets older and wears down. People who are more sensitive, like children or people with existing health problems can develop what’s called “mercury poisoning” from the toxins being released into their bodies. Women and mothers who are breastfeeding are especially susceptible to it’s effects. In fact, the UK, Canada, and Australia have all banned the use of amalgam fillings in pregnant women.
So, what do I do?
Your dentist in Georgetown only uses ceramic and tooth-colored composite materials for dental fillings…. NEVER amalgam. If you have existing amalgam fillings that may be old or damaged, talk to us about replacing those fillings with safer composite materials. We use a special amalgam separator during the removal process to be sure that none of that toxic material enters our water supply, which is a whole other realm of environmental danger that we addressed in a previous blog.
At Trade Winds Dental, we’re concerned with not only your oral health, but also your overall health today and well into the future. Call us today to schedule an appointment.