Can an Oral Appliance Help My Headaches and Face Pain?

Jun 20, 2024
Can an Oral Appliance Help My Headaches and Face Pain?
When you have a headache, the last thing you think about is your teeth. But if you grind your teeth at night — an unconscious habit called bruxism — the stress causes a variety of facial pains, including headaches. An oral appliance may help.

If you're troubled by jaw pain, facial aches, and pains, or headaches, you may reflexively reach for the ibuprofen without wondering about what’s at the root of your pain. Ideally, when you have any pain or symptom, a doctor or dentist should work with you to find the cause so that it can be addressed and, possibly, healed.

In the case of facial pain and headaches, a common cause may be muscle tension in your neck, jaw, or face. Jaw tension, in particular, can trigger headaches and lead to temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction, sometimes referred to as TMJ.

Addie Chang, DMD, an expert and caring family dentist, addresses the source of your facial pain and headaches. If jaw tension is at the root of your symptoms, she may prescribe a customized oral appliance at our offices in Tukwila, Washington.

Would your facial pains and headaches diminish with an oral appliance? Following are several cases where they probably would.

You have obstructive sleep apnea 

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common sleep breathing disorder in which you stop breathing for seconds to a minute or more at a time. You’re more likely to have OSA if you’re overweight, but anyone at any age may develop this condition.

Untreated OSA can lead to daytime fatigue as well as headaches and jaw pain. As a way to alert yourself to the fact that you’ve stopped breathing, you may be unconsciously grinding your teeth at night. Apneas — pauses in breathing — are often followed by brief periods of tooth grinding, a habit known as bruxism.

Treatment with a customized oral appliance helps you breathe better when you sleep. When you don’t experience apneas, you’re less likely to grind your teeth.

Patients with OSA who are treated with an appliance have better sleep and fewer headaches. An oral appliance is also more easily tolerated than other OSA treatments, including continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines. 

You have bruxism

Whether or not you have OSA, if you have jaw pain or morning headaches, you may engage in bruxism. Although bruxism is usually associated with sleeping, you may also grind your teeth or clench your jaw during the day, especially if you’re under stress.

The good news is that wearing a customized oral appliance at night can have a positive impact on daytime headaches and pain. Patients with daytime bruxism, nighttime bruxism, and both day- and nighttime bruxism all experienced relief from facial pain. They also scored higher on quality of life

You have a TMJ disorder 

The temporomandibular joints (TMJs) are the hinges that allow your jaw to open, close, and move side-to-side. Bruxism and jaw clenching may stress the muscles that control your TMJs, leading to jaw pain, radiating facial pain, and headaches.

When you have a TMJ disorder, Dr. Chang takes impressions of your teeth to create an oral appliance that helps relieve pressure on your jaw at night. Sometimes, you may feel a slight increase in TMJ discomfort as you acclimate to the device. 

Dr. Chang makes adjustments so that the device performs well and keeps you comfortable. The oral appliance prevents you from grinding your teeth and worsening TMJ pain. You should experience better, deeper sleep, less jaw tension during the day, and a higher quality of life.

As a bonus, oral appliances also preserve your oral health. Without treatment, bruxism can eventually grind down your biting surfaces, flattening your molars and creating uneven teeth. Over time, your teeth may even crack or chip from the pressure.

Would your facial pains and headaches be diminished with an oral appliance? To schedule a thorough examination, diagnosis, and treatment plan, contact our sympathetic team by phone or online form today.