Common Symptoms

Headaches and Migraines

What are headaches and migraines?

headaches and migrainesA headache is defined as a pain sensation felt deep within the head. Headaches can be classified into two groups. Primary headaches and secondary headaches.

  • Primary headaches are the most common type and are not found to be attributed to any specific cause, however we at Wholistic Dentistry believe they do have a trigger. The most common forms of primary headaches are tension headaches, migraines and cluster headaches.
  • Secondary headaches are sensations of pain attributed to known causes like trauma, medication, hypertension, infection, tumor or MS. Secondary headaches can range from mild to severe to life threatening but most headache are not life threatening.

What are the symptoms of headaches and migraines?

Primary headaches are classified by the location and severity of pain.

  • Tension headaches are sensations of pain associated with musculo-skeletal tension around the back, neck, face and/or jaw.
  • A migraine is a pain sensation that builds from a dull ache to a constant throbbing, pulsating pain that can be felt on both sides of the head, at the temples, in the front or back of the head. Migraine pain can be associated with nausea, vomiting and hypersensitivity to light and noise stimulus. Some patients may experience an aura before the onset of a migraine.
  • Cluster headaches are a variant of migraines, which usually occur unilaterally on either side of the head and behind the eyes. This type of headache may appear in short severe bursts.

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What causes headaches and migraines?

While primary headaches are the most commonly experienced forms of headaches, their causes are highly variable and involve multiple factors.

It is commonly believed that emotional and physical stresses cause headaches as muscle tension cause tension headaches. At Wholistic Dentistry we believe that there are common biochemical and physiological factors that predispose some patients to developing headaches more than others. These factors include ischemia, vasodilatation, inflammatory substances and cranial restriction. When patients experience physical or psychological stresses on top of these predisposing factors, they have a greater risk of developing severe headache symptoms. Addressing these predisposing factors may provide patients with a physical tolerance to headaches.

How are headaches and migraines treated?

The help that we can offer at Wholistic Dentistry is a non invasive, function appliance therapy. This treatment works by improving blood oxygenation and sleeping patterns through the development of airway passages, whilst also creating cranial expansion through the expansion of the maxillo-facial region. This two tiered treatment approach addresses both the biochemical and the physiological factors contributing to headaches and migraines. Combined with food allergy avoidance methods, the efficacy of this treatment can be enhanced further.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a clinically recognised sleeping disorder, characterised by the repeated collapse of the upper airway during sleep and the obstruction (cessation) of breathing. This corresponds with a reduction in blood oxygenation. OSA should not be mistaken for snoring, which is the partial obstruction of the airway, and the vibration of the pharangyeal tissue resulting from forced inhalation/expiration. Snoring and sleep apnea are two separate conditions, however snoring can occur in the presence of OSA and be a warning sign of potential sleep apnea patients.

What are the signs symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea?

Symptoms of OSA include snoring, interrupted sleep, as well as fatigue and drowsiness during the day. Patients who also suffer from one or more of the following are more at risk of developing OSA or are likely to currently experience OSA:

  • Obesity
  • Small or retruded jaw
  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Hypertension
  • Restless sleep
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Intellectual deterioration
  • Memory lapses
  • Chocking during sleep
  • Headaches/migraines
  • Large tonsils/adenoids
  • Double chin (large neck)

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How is obstructive sleep apnea diagnosed?

A diagnosis of OSA can be made on the basis of a comprehensive medical history, questionnaires (e.g. The Epworth Sleep Scale) and an overnight polysomnographic study. This study can be performed either at home or in a sleep clinic and can distinguish between simple snoring and OSA.

What are the causes of OSA?

The cause of OSA, is due to a number of anatomical and patho-physiological factors.¹

Anatomical factors:
Underdevelopment of the maxilla and retrusion of the jaw reduce the size of the upper airway. This pushes the tongue backwards and obstructs the airway passage. By obstructing the airway passage there is an increased risk of developing OSA.

Patho-physiological factors:
Functional impairment of the upper airway muscles promotes the collapse of the upper airway. This functional impairment may come from numerous sources. These include obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, alcohol, smoking, consumption of mucus producing foods and/or blood acidosis. These factors contribute to an accumulation of fatty tissue in the walls lining the airway and tire airway muscles leading to a collapse of the upper airway, thereby contributing to the development of OSA.

How Can Obstructive sleep Apnea be treated?

The treatment of OSA depends on how severe the disorder is, there are usually four main treatment options. The first of which involves lifestyle modifications such as weight loss, limiting evening alcohol consumption and smoking; however, this is usually only effective in mild cases. The upper airway surgery and the use of a CPAP are two effective options for the treatment of OSA however both are quite invasive and cumbersome. The best option is an oral appliance which can deliver good results within a short period of time.

Mandibular (lower jaw) Advancement Devices (MADs) are the most common dental appliances used to treat OSA and are available in numerous designs. They work by advancing the mandible forward, pulling the tongue away from the oro-pharyngeal cavity and thereby increasing the size of the oro-pharyngeal cavity.

The SOMA is a type of MAD used to treat sleep apnea and a multitude of other health problems. It is based on the same fundamental principles of mandible protrusion yet it is fundamentally different from preceding MAD models as it allows for the orthodontic correction of the upper jaw facilitating permanent changes in facial architecture. This is an important differentiation because through the usage of the SOMA, a patient can eventually reach a stage of permanent mandibular change and will no longer require the use of any oral appliance to overcome OSA. It works on the principle that the position of the mandible is dependent on the location of specific teeth within the maxillary arch. The SOMA has three adjustable cogs incorporated into its design and is intended to be worn with a certain level of tension to push against the teeth of the upper jaw. This helps to maintain sufficient pressure and move teeth into a more anatomically correct position. With the expansion of the maxillary arch, the mandible moves forward in a similar manner to that of conventional MADs, however this new orientation of the mandible is permanent. At Wholistic Dentistry we have had numerous reports of patients who have reported complete resolution of snoring and improvement in previously reported symptoms of OSA.

TMJ pain and TMD

What is TMJ pain and TMD? The TemporoMendibular Joint (TMJ) is a joint that facilitates the opening and closing of the mouth and more complex movements like chewing. TMJ pain and TemporoMandibular Dysfunction (TMD) are terms relating to acute and chronic inflammation of the TMJ respectively. This inflammation can result in mild to significant pain localised to the TMJ. In many cases, this pain manifests itself in referred pain crossing multiple health care disciplines. These include dentistry, psychology, neurology, physical therapy and biochemistry.

What are the symptoms of TMJ pain and TMD?

The diversity of symptoms involved with TMJ pain and TMD have earned it the tittle of the ‘Great Imitator’. Many symptoms are anatomically separated from the TMJ but are actually caused by disturbances originating from the TMJ.

Localised symptoms:

  • Pain in the TMJ itself
  • Clicking of the jaw during opening and/or closing motions
  • Jaw pain
  • Tight, sore muscles around the jaw
  • Impaired Maximum Mouth Opening (MMO)
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Bruxism (grinding teeth)
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ear)
  • Hearing problems
  • Deviations (left or right) in jaw opening

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Referred Symptoms:

  • Headaches or migraines
  • Neck or back pain
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Multiple Sclerosis like symptoms
  • Depression
  • Asthma

What causes TMJ pain and TMD pain?

TMJ pain and TMD can arise from a number of causes such as genetic abnormality, arthritis, ankylosis, dislocation or trauma. Acute pain of the TMJ results from known causes like trauma from a blow to the jaw. Causes of chronic inflammation are harder to diagnose as it may result from prolonged damaged after a traumatic event or unknown causes.

How is TMJ pain and TMD treated?

If the TMJ has incurred damage from either acute or chronic inflammation, then an assessment is required to determine the extent of damage and available options for treatment. This could include splint therapy or in severe cases, surgery. At Wholistic Dentistry we are well aware of the pain patients experience with TMJ problems, that is why we have developed a highly effective TMJ treatment option for patients in pain management. Our treatment has successfully avoided jaw surgery for numerous patients and given hundreds of patients stable relief from pain. Our method involves non-invasive splint, orthodontic, myofunctional appliance therapy that decompresses the TMJ and stops positive feed-back of inflammation. By stopping the positive feed-back of inflammation in and around the TMJ, the tissue can repair itself and return to either a normal or a significantly improved state.

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