Headaches — especially bad ones — can be incredibly debilitating, especially if they continue for days on end. But when your headache stretches from days to weeks, there's definitely something else not working correctly in your body — and it could be as simple as the placement of your teeth.
A misaligned bite can cause problems for you, both functionally and aesthetically, but temporomandibular joint pain (TMJ) can be one of the main problems, not to mention the cause of your constant headaches. So if you're wondering how exactly this little problem can have such big consequences, then here's what you need to know.
Branching Paths of Pain
Misaligned teeth can contribute to TMJ, and TMJ can cause clicks and pops in your jaw; those pops can cause varying degrees of pain, but the main source of pain caused by TMJ is the development of unilateral headaches.
Unilateral headaches are headaches that occur on only one side of the head, and contain in their umbrella both cluster headaches (which feel like an ice pick digging into your head, rather than the pulsating of a normal headache) and zygopophysial joint headaches, where the joint in question gets inflamed.
Problems at Night
While TMJ is always a problem, it tends to become more apparent at nighttime, especially if you clench or grind your teeth. You might often wake up not only with a headache but with a tired, stiff jaw and a pronounced pop. You may also feel your jaw slide to the side when you open your mouth for the first time in the morning.
You can soften these problems with a night retainer; this will prevent you from wearing away at your teeth by clenching or grinding during the night. If a retainer is a bad fit (for example, if you have breathing problems that a store-bought retainer will obstruct), you can even try botox injected into your jaw muscles to prevent these destructive behaviors. If you're looking for a cure, however, you'll have to read on.
A Solution in Sight
Luckily, this pain and these constant headaches can be cured with a little help from your dentist. Aligning your teeth and jaw properly can help to alleviate TMJ, which can dispel your headaches (or at least decrease how often they occur).
Traditional wire braces are usually the most popular solution to misaligned teeth, but your dentist may offer other solutions. You may need to have wisdom teeth that are crowding your mouth and misaligning your bite taken out, or you may find (especially if you're in the workforce or have responsibilities that require you to look a certain way) that invisible braces or retainers fit your lifestyle better.
If you have constant headaches that could be coming from your misaligned teeth, go talk to your local dentist or orthodontist about teeth alignment as soon as you are able — and start living without headaches.