Nagging Headache And Painful Jaw Tied To Your Oral Health

By: Zeta Dental

Many women suffer from headaches at the beginning of a period. They are thought to be caused by a combination of the plummeting levels of hormones that occurs in the day or so before bleeding starts, combined with the release of prostaglandins from the womb that occurs with the onset of bleeding.

You can help to prevent the effects of prostaglandins (which can include period pains, and also digestive upsets) by taking drugs that block their action, such as ibuprofen (available from chemists) or mefenamic acid (available on prescription).

For best effect these should be started a couple of days before your period is due - don't wait until symptoms start. As you have suspected, it is likely that the headache at the end of your period is caused by tension, and a neck massage, plus lots of relaxation time, may be all that you need.

Could that nagging headache and painful jaw be tied to your oral health? Many headache sufferers might want to consult their dentist as well as their doctor since headaches and dental pain have a lot in common, says Director of the Orofacial Pain and Oral Medicine Graduate Program at the USC School of Dentistry Glenn Clark.

Pain centered in the nerves and muscles running throughout the face and neck, as well as poor habits the discomfort may cause, can trap sufferers in a painful feedback loop, with head pain triggering jaw and neck pain and vice versa.

"Headaches and toothaches all transmit through the trigeminal nerve, the largest sensory nerve in the head that supplies the external face, scalp, jaw, teeth and much of the intra-oral structures," Clark says. "Pain in one branch of the nerve has the potential to activate other branches of the nerve, and when that pain is chronic and sustained, it is more likely to trigger a sequence of events that might lead to a headache. In people who have headaches, a continuous, sustained toothache can easily trigger one of the episodic headaches such as migraines."

When head and face pain spring from tooth or jaw joint injury, such as when a patient unknowingly clenches or grinds their teeth for long periods of time and damages tissue inside and below the teeth, it can be difficult for a physician to decipher the cause of the pain, he says. That's where a dentist with a trained eye for the medical and behavioral causes of orofacial pain comes in.

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