What ARE Migraines?


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

Soda Pop – How it affects your health.

Cool glass of iced soda

Cool glass of iced soda

OK!!! Who HASN’T downed a long, cool refreshing glass of soda?? Particularly when it’s lovely, warm and sunny outside. I know I have, on many occasions, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Whether you call it “Pop”, “Soda”, “Juice”, “Seltzer” or “Coke”, it’s a carbonated, artificially flavored fruit drink. Although this article is more concerned with the effects of carbonated beverages, please remember that most beverages otherwise known generically as a “Soft Drinks” have some of the same scarily bad for you contents too, just without the carbonation.

Soda Brands

Soda Brands

As I said in my first line above, I have enjoyed many a cool soft drink, as I am sure many of you have too. (Some reports estimate that each American consumes an average of 58 GALLONS of soda a year!!) But, how many of us have ever considered WHAT we are actually drinking, and the consequences of downing these types of liquids, in the quantities that we do?

Soft drinks, according to many recent medical and dental studies, have become one of the biggest sources of tooth decay as well as being linked to obesity, kidney damage, high blood pressure, diabetes and some cancers. Now, it’s not just the “full fat” or regular sodas that harm us. Diet sodas also have their own additional effects. Such as; boosting risk of strokes and heart attacks. Amazing that we still drink them huh???


What's REALLY in the can?

What’s REALLY in the can?

Water is, of course, the main ingredient. Hhhhhmmmm, now how can water be bad for us??? Well, in pretty much in the same way that salads, vegetables, fruits and plenty of other food stuffs are really good for us “au naturel”….it’s once we start adding the extras (i.e; salad dressings, sauces, butter and sugars) that the problems begin. Whilst in most natural foods, a little of what you fancy does you good, soda’s and most processed foods not only have excessive amounts of sugars (an average of 16 teaspoons per can of soda), fats and carbohydrates, they also have unnatural chemical ingredients added. Now while some of the chemicals in foods and beverages are there to prolong the shelf life and stabilize the mix (so ingredients don’t separate) in some cases the chemicals are, surprisingly,  there to make the food/drink taste better. So, getting back to the point – what is IN a soda drink and WHY are they bad for us?

What is in a soda?

What is in a soda?

Your long, cool, refreshing soda isn’t sounding quite so refreshing now is it?

Phosphoric acid – used to promote carbonation, give a sharper flavor, slow mold and bacteria growth (ever tried dropping a penny into a glass of Coke overnight? Comes out sparkling like new the next day!!!). This acid erodes tooth enamel, weakens bones.

Check the acid and sugar content of sodas!!

Check the acid and sugar content of sodas!!

Excessive Artificial Sweetener – a chemically manufactured substance used as a substitute for real sugar. Artificial sweeteners can inhibit rather than promote weight loss as they “trick” your body into thinking it is getting sugar so, upsetting the normal working process of the pancreas in producing insulin. They can also induce cravings for “more” sugar and sweet things, increase migraines and possibly lead to intestinal troubles and thymus gland damage. The chemicals used for artificial sweeteners can also convert to Formaldehyde at body temperature!.

Just looking at those two ingredients alone is enough to give me nightmares!!! An analysis of dental checkup data at the University of Michigan found that “Adults who drink three or more sodas a day have worse dental health. Soda drinkers had far greater decay, more missing teeth and more fillings”.

Just let it be said, SODA is BAD for you!!! Diet OR regular!! Try and drink alternatives such as milk, fruit juice (although in moderation, as these too contain citric acid) and best of all WATER!. If you CAN’T give up your soda habit at least try drinking it with a straw, to avoid as much direct contact with your teeth as possible. After all, which smile would YOU prefer?

This smile was caused by excessive drinking of Mountain Dew!

This smile was caused by excessive drinking of Mountain Dew!


THINK before you DRINK!!!