Headaches and temporomandibular disorders (TMDs*) are common problems in modern society. The cause of headaches and TMD can also be complicated and have multiple factors. Your teeth and chewing muscles can be part of the problem in many cases. Our headache treatment options include splints of various types depending on what our clinical exam and patient assessment determines.
However, the key to headaches and TMD treatment depends first on a proper diagnosis. For example, sleep, breathing, head posture and tongue posture also have considerable effects on muscle pain and activity. One study demonstrated that children who primarily breathe through their mouths have a forward head posture. After removal of tonsils to create airway space and enable nasal breathing the head posture corrected significantly. This makes sense because in order to breathe through the mouth the tongue has to be low in the mouth and takes up more space in the throat. Moving the head forward helps to open the airway for maximum airflow. The consequences can be serious over time. When the mouth is open the tongue cannot be between the arches of the teeth. This causes the arches to collapse and crowding results. This leaves even less room for the tongue and creates a bigger problem. Also, the muscles of the neck and shoulders have to work overtime to hold the head up when it is not centered over the body. This is by no means the only reason people get headaches, but is a good example of one common problem.
Treatments can be complex and often involve multiple health care practitioners to treat the muscles, airway disorder, jaw position and other imbalances. However, sometimes it's much easier and one treatment modality is all that is needed.
Our doctors are experienced with treating some of these problems and have a good grasp of our tools and limitations to treat headaches and TMD. We can therefore help many of our patients and refer other patients for help when we do not have the proper tools to help them.