What ARE Migraines?

june-awareness

June is National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month.

Laura, one of our assistants here at the office, used to suffer regularly from migraine attacks as did Tina’s (Front Desk) Mom. So, because we know what it’s like (first and secondhand) to have persistent, bad headaches, we thought we would highlight this issue.

Migraine is an inherited neurological disorder that is characterized by over excitability of specific areas of the brain. Although we do not clearly understand how a migraine brain is different or what happens in the brain to start a migraine, we know that individuals with migraine are more susceptible to the influence of transient factors, termed “triggers,” that raise the risk for having a migraine attack.

Migraine costs the United States more than $20 billion each year. Costs are attributed to direct medical expenses such as doctor visits and medications, and indirect expenses like missed work and lost productivity. But the burden doesn’t stop there. Those afflicted with migraine are more likely to have depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, other pain conditions and fatigue. People who have a history of experiencing an aura phase (migraine with changes in vision) have been shown to be at an increased risk for stroke and heart attack.

SO, how do you know if you have migraines? What makes them different form a regular headache? While “headache” might appear as a catch-all term for all sorts of head pain, migraine is distinct from headaches because of its duration, severity and accompanying symptoms. Patients often complain of being physically exhausted and drained from the dizziness, nausea, vomiting, skin sensitivity, the lights, the smell, the sounds and the inability to concentrate or think straight. So, if you have two or more of these symptoms, it may be a good idea to consult your primary care physician.

  • Headaches that are moderately or severely painful
  • Headache pain that gets worse with physical activity
  • A headache that is throbbing and is often worse on one side
  • A headache that causes you to miss school, work or other activities
  • Increased sensitivity to light, sound or smells during a headache
  • A long-lasting headache (4-48 hours if untreated)

A few fact and figures:

  • 36 million Americans suffer from migraines
  • Women are 3 times more likely than men to suffer from migraine
  • Depressions and anxiety are twice as common in people who have migraines
  • 14.8 million people in the US suffer migraine symptoms sever enough to require bed rest or cause impairment of normal daily activities.

Now, as much as we’d like to just skip the our visits to the dentist, these visits are essential for our health. Migraine sufferers, face unique challenges that require good dental hygiene and care. Frequent vomiting can erode tooth decay. Plus, many of our prescription medications can cause dry mouth, which can lead to an increased risk of tooth decay. Some medicines even increase our risk of gum disease! Dental problems have been linked to the development of cardiovascular disease, too. Because migraine sufferers already have an increased risk for heart problems, it just makes sense to keep those risk factors from stacking up too high.But dental visits can also be filled with potential triggers. If the lights, sounds, and smells don’t get you, then the procedures certainly will. Because the trigeminal nerve extends into the face and jaw, all that extra pressure, vibration, scraping, poking, and drilling certainly puts stress on our most vulnerable nerve bundle. Depending on individual sensitivity, even a simple cleaning can set off an attack.

For those of you who suffer from migraines, please tell us and we can make your appointment more comfortable for you.

  • Wear dark sunglasses or bring your eye mask along
  • Ask your dentist or hygienist to play your favorite kind of music, or if you prefer, bring your own personal music player and earbuds
  • Place a small pillow under your neck for support
  • Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing
  • Bring a jacket or sweater if the office is cold…or better yet, ask to use our soft blanket
  • Apply over the counter oral pain relief gel to your lips before you get started
  • Use a portable TENS unit on your neck and/or shoulders to help you stay relaxed
  • Apply Vicks under your nose or use one of our soft organic lip balms  to mask unpleasant smells
  • Practice deep breathing, relaxation and use your earbuds to listen to meditation recordings to help you remain calm
  • Ask for the first appointment of the day. We are always concerned with your comfort, but we are human too and early morning appointments are always less stressed and rushed than those at the end of the day

Check out these links for further information:

American Migraine Foundation -www.americanmigrainefoundation.org

Coalition for Headache and Migraine Patients – http://www.headachemigraine.org

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OK – Got my braces – Now What??

In our last blog we discussed some of the reasons why people need braces. Today, we’ll discuss the ages they can be used,  what to expect and how to look after them.

When?? How old do I have to be? I don’t now about you, but usually when I think about braces I tend to immediately think about teenagers in high school. However, this is completely wrong!! Our teeth can be straightened at almost any age, because even as adults, as long as our teeth are healthy and we have the necessary supporting teeth, our teeth can be re-trained to ‘sit’ properly so that we have wonderful smiles. Of course, the majority of people still do have braces as children, particularly during the teenage years as this is when a lot of the growth in our faces occurs, so it makes sense to do any necessary orthodontic work then, as in the long term it saves time and expense at a later stage of our lives.

Adults wear braces too!!!

Adults wear braces too!!!

What to expect from your braces?

As well as the medical benefits of having braces such as; straightening teeth, correcting your bite, closing gaps, stopping your jaw hurting, relieving headaches and muscle aches you may also benefit from many other factors. As appearance has a lot to do with confidence you may find that you are more outgoing and confident as a result of your teeth and your smile being ‘fixed’. Many children and even adults can be bullied or picked on because of perceived problems with their appearance and braces can in some cases help with this. Just by having the braces in, they can help you feel more confident, even while wearing them because you now know that your smile and teeth are going to get better. So, your confidence and self-image can increase throughout the whole procedure.

Self Confidence

How to look after your braces?

Now the medical and psychological benefits of braces can only do so much. YOU have to do your part!! The most important part is keeping your teeth and braces clean! BUT remember although it might be  a bit more difficult to keep them clean, we all know that nothing worth while is easy, we all have to work at it!!!

Sometimes you may feel some soreness during treatment. More usually just after the braces are first placed and then sometimes after the periodic adjustments. This is only to be expected and should only last for a short while, everyone is different. Your lips and cheeks may also take some time to get used to the braces and need time to adjust to this ‘alien’ thing in your mouth. Don’t worry, this is quite normal, but if you have any issues about any discomfort or pain, please call your Orthodontist for reassurance and advice. Your Orthodontist does not want you be stressed about the braces and will give you advice to minimize any issues you might have. You might be given soft wax to place over the bands and brackets at night which helps your lips and cheeks to adapt to the braces. Another simple remedy is to rinse your mouth with a warm salt water mix (1/4 teaspoon in 1/2 cup of warm water) for the first week.

For ongoing maintenance you will need to check your braces daily to see if any are loose or broken as this can happen occasionally. Of course, if you do find anything loose or broken you will need to call you Orthodontist immediately to get it fixed.

Other maintenance issues are the very basic ones of brushing often and minimizing your intake of sugar, which, of course apply to ALL dental hygiene regimes. Those that specifically apply to braces are avoiding sticky foods such as caramels, Laffy Taffy, Tootsie Rolls, Gummies; avoiding hard foods such as nuts, popcorn (well – the kernels are hard !!!!), hard pretzels, suckers, ice, Jolly Ranchers, Jaw Breakers; cutting apples, carrots and corn on the cob into pieces and tearing bagels, pizza crusts and jerky with your fingers NOT your teeth!!  Now, just because these are the only items on this short list – don’t think that they are the only ones you should avoid…..use your common sense!! THINK before you eat if and how the food will affect your braces. It is up to you to be careful, after all, it will be YOU back at the dentist in pain if you don’t pay attention.

Ultimately, your braces will result in a wonderful new smile for you – but only if you follow your Orthodontist’s instructions and attend all your appointments.

I’d like to thank the staff at our colleague the Betsy Meade Orthodontics (DDS, MS) office for helping with the information for these last two blogs about braces.

Headaches and TMJ

Headaches and TMJ pain are very closely related!  

 Jaw pain can impact your life greatly! If you suffer from jaw pain and headaches there are treatment options and solutions.  Along with the impact of the pain from TMJ dysfunction,  grinding and clenching can also cause periodontal disease, tooth loss, broken teeth even root canal treatment.  There are many options for treatment, TMJ can be treated!

There are many signs and symptoms for TMJ dysfunction including headaches:

  • Biting or chewing difficulty or discomfort
  • Clicking, popping, or grating sound when opening or closing the mouth
  • Dull, aching pain in the face
  • Earache (particularly in the morning)
  • Headache (particularly in the morning)
  • Hearing loss
  • Migraine (particularly in the morning)
  • Jaw pain or tenderness of the jaw
  • Reduced ability to open or close the mouth
  • Tinnitus
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Dizziness
Causes of TMJ include
  • grinding, clenching
  • life stress
  • dental restorations not adjusted properly- “filling or crown feels “high” in the bite”
  • structural issues within the jaw
  • trauma
  • excessive gum chewing or nail biting or chewing on pens etc
  • lack of overbite
  • degeneration joint disease, fybromyalgia, Myofascial pain dysfunction syndrome
  • lack of overbite or an open bite

Treatment!

There are many options both traditional and alternative

  • adjusting improper dental restorations (ie crowns, fillings etc)
  • bite splints- both over the counter or prescribed just for you!
  • massage therapy (yes! it is a wonderful excuse to get a massage- both whole body and targeted
  • physical therapy in extreme cases
  • ice the joint, NSAID’s like motrin, advil, ibuprofen
  • orthodontics
  • in very extreme cases- surgery
  • decrease life stress
  • anti depressants, muscle relaxers
If you have any issues with TMJ and would like a consultation with us please call!
734.485.2200