More than 200 types of headaches have been reported but, the headache originating from the muscles (myogenous headache) always remained unknown and unexplored due to lack of knowledge. Commonly, taming our nervous system not to feel pain with the use of medicines should be just a supportive therapy and the actual definitive treatment is limited to eradicating the real cause of such chronic pain affecting our day to day life. Our body has two type of tissues, shedding (majority) and non-shedding (teeth only) which means if there is a wound in our skin the dead part will shed off and will be replaced by the new skin, but case is not the same with teeth, which once damaged are not totally repaired naturally. Teeth are the only stop point for the lower jaw (mandible) to connect with the upper jaw and skull with the help of a pair of very unique joints called ‘The Temporomandibular Joint’ (TMJ), located at the base of the head and in front of the ear along with group of facial and cervical muscles, which are prone to damage.Common causes of Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMDs) are improper alignments of teeth (crooked teeth) or the jaws, grinding of teeth associated with snoring (sleep apnea) or sleep disorders and missing teeth which in turn can cause unexplained headache, neck pain, jaw ache or sharp ear ache, all together known as Cranio-Cervical-Mandibular Disorder (CCMD).
In other common symptoms of TMD, patients often face clicking and popping sound in the ear when they open or close their mouth. A strong pain is felt when one tries to open their mouth wide or yawns or open their mouth to eat. The jaws may get locked or stuck due to TMD. However, it is best advised to consult a doctor to get the symptoms examined and get treatment done at the earliest.
Neuromuscular Dentistry objectively evaluates the complex for optimal relationship between teeth, airway, TMJ and the masticatory muscles in order to achieve a dental occlusion or the bite (special relation how lower teeth contact the uppers). Researches have concluded that 90% of the facial pains are myogenous or originates from the muscles, where the altered trajectory for the functioning of a facial muscle leads to over loading and eventual fatigue of the muscles which in turn causes pain in the affected area or other associated part of the body.
In the 1950’s, Dr. Jankelson, the father of neuromuscular dentistry, learnt how to measure the electrical activity of the facial muscle and documented the fact that teeth and temporomandibular disorders causes headache and it can be permanently cured by restabilising the harmony between the head, muscles, jaws and the teeth. Customized oral orthotics and other specialised oral devices like sleep appliance can be fabricated to not only cure chronic headaches, but also help patients suffering from undiagnosed sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnea that could have debilitating effects like cardiovascular, neurological, endocrinal diseases and many more secondary effects.
Good quality of sleep has a dramatic impact on your health, well-being and overall quality of life. Snoring and obstructive sleep apnea disrupt your sleep and increase your risk of severe health problems. Remember that snoring is a warning sign that should never be ignored. If you have snoring with or without sleep apnea, your doctor prescribe an oral sleep appliance and also discuss other treatment options with you.
The most common treatment for sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, to keep the airway open by providing forced air through flexible tubing requiring wearing a mask while sleeping. Although CPAP therapy is effective, some people are unable to adhere to it. People prefer an oral appliance because it is comfortable, quiet, portable and easy to wear. In some severe cases of sleep apnea, surgical intervention may be another treatment option.
Dental sleep medicine is an area of dental practice that focuses on the use of oral appliance therapy to treat sleep-disordered breathing, including snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Dentists work together with sleep physicians to identify the best treatment for each patient. In oral appliance therapy, a custom-fit, “mouth guard-like” device is worn only during sleep, which is an effective treatment for snoring and OSA. The concept is still far away from acceptance due to lack of awareness. Do rule it out if you have suffered long.