All Press Releases for September 15, 2007

Chronic Headaches and Pain Alleviated by Dentistry

You may not immediately think of your dentist the next time you suffer from a migraine, but you might be surprised to know that there are many causes of headache, face, neck and shoulder pain that can be relieved by dental treatments

    /24-7PressRelease/ - GOLDEN, CO, September 15, 2007 - You may not immediately think of your dentist the next time you suffer from a migraine, but you might be surprised to know that there are many causes of headache, face, neck and shoulder pain that can be relieved by dental treatments. If this is not something you've tried, consider scheduling a consultation to find out if you suffer from temporomandibular joint disorder, a condition in which the upper and lower teeth are misaligned, causing muscle contractions in the jaw joint that lead to tension and pain.

A number of treatment options are available, depending on the cause of your pain. For example, you may not know it, but you might be clenching and unclenching your teeth many times throughout the day or night. This can wear down your teeth and create tension in your jaw, creating your headaches and other pain. If your dentist finds this is the case, he or she will prescribe useful home exercises and physical therapy, to be used in combination with a mouth guard that reduces the intensity and frequency of your oral stress and protects your teeth from further wear and destruction. This will restore the muscles of your head and neck area to normal length, function, posture and full range of motion, helping to reduce your symptoms.

The following treatments may also be helpful for treating chronic headaches and related pain:

Occlusal Splint - Also called a night guard, the Occlusal Splint protects the teeth from further wear and reduces the severity of grinding at night, allowing the muscles to rest. In severe cases, the splint may need to be worn all day to allow the joints and muscles to rest.

Jaw Rest - You must rest your jaw for it to heal. Do not:
· chew gum
· bite your nails
· clench your teeth together
· chew on pencils
· eat excessively chewy and crunchy foods during treatment

Moist Heat - penetrating moist heat promotes blood flow, aiding in healing and relaxation of the muscle and helping pain medications work more effectively. A wet washcloth with a hot water bottle will do, or purchase moist heating pads.
Exercises - Some simple jaw and neck exercises may be recommended to help the muscles stretch. A good time to do some of these is in the warm, moist environment of the shower or bath, particularly in the morning and/or before bedtime.
Physical Therapy - Physical therapy can help relax the muscles and increase joint flexibility. We can teach you some simple stretching therapies during your office consultation. If necessary, you will be referred to a physical therapist.
Stress Management - Stressed-out muscles that are contracted and cramped lead to pain. Emotion and stress can cause your muscles to become stressed-out. Any stress reliever that works for you is helpful. Reading, exercising, listening to music, going for a walk are all ways people reduce the stress in their lives. You may want to consider counseling to learn stress management. The point is, it is almost impossible to get relief from TMJ if your underlying emotional issues are not addressed. If you can't do it yourself, don't be afraid to ask for help.
Anterior Deprogrammer - A less well known treatment method is an anterior deprogrammer. This device contacts the four lower incisors when you close your mouth, and reduces resistance when the lower jaw moves back and forth, reducing muscle contraction intensity and helping teeth the become properly aligned. An anterior deprogrammer is meant for short term use and emergency situations.

Medication - Pain medication may be prescribed. Often, over the counter analgesics such as ibuprofen are enough. These medications relieve pain and reduce inflammation during the healing process. Occasionally a mild muscle relaxant may be prescribed.

The most effective drugs for TMJ management include:
1. Non-narcotic analgesic drugs such as acetaminophen (Tylenol).
2. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as aspirin, Trilisate, ibuprofen, Naproxen and prescription strength NSAIDS.
3. Muscle relaxant drugs such as Carisoprodol (Soma) and Cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril).
4. Tricyclic anti-depressant medications such as Amitriptyline (Elavil), Nortriptyline (Pamelor), and Doxepin (Sinequan).

Referral - In some cases, a specialist may be needed from physicians, oral surgeons, orthodontists, psychotherapists, physical therapists, or prosthodontists. Very severe cases may be referred from the start to a pain center or a dentist whose main focus is the treatment of temporomandibular disorders.

Dr. Michael Iott has the education, training and experience to diagnose and treat the cause of your chronic headaches and pain. Why not schedule a consultation and allow Dr. Iott to offer you the very best options to relieve your symptoms? Click here to contact Dr. Iott's office now.
What can you do to help yourself at home?
· Limit your jaw opening (yawning, etc.) to no more than 2 finger widths.
· Rest your jaw by avoiding heavy chewing (e.g. gum, bagels, tough meats).
· Avoid grinding and clenching your teeth by keeping the teeth slightly apart and the jaw relaxed.
· Avoid leaning or sleeping on the jaw.
· Avoid tongue thrusting and chewing fingernails or non-food objects.
· Avoid playing wind, brass and string instruments that stress, retrude or strain the jaw.
· Use cold/ice packs or moist heat compresses as directed by your doctor or therapist.
· Use over-the-counter medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, Naproxen, Tylenol or Percogesic, as directed by your doctor or therapist.

If you are experiencing chronic headaches, pain in your face, neck, shoulders and upper back, or any of the other symptoms described here, call our office to schedule a private consultation.

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