Is It Really A Migraine??

Last week in the course of a routine examination, I asked a standard question of our young woman patient: “Do you have any problem with headaches?” She replied that she does have “migraines”. So I asked a few relevant questions about the headaches, and as is often the case, this patient’s answers led me to believe that her headaches are, in fact, not migraines.

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In our office, we often treat patients with head and neck pain who have been diagnosed by their doctors as having temporomandibular joint dysfunction. Oftentimes, such patients visit their doctors because they assume that the headaches from which they suffer must be migraines.

What are the typical signs and symptoms of a migraine headache? A typical migraine may last several hours to as many as three days. The pain is moderate to severe, pulsating, and usually on one side of the head. Typical associated signs of migraines include nausea and/or vomiting, as well as sensitivity to light and noise. Many migraine patients describe an “aura” just before the migraine begins. Auras are exhibited as a change in vision or hearing. Episodic migraines occur fewer than fifteen times per month with only some of these headaches being actual migraines. Such headaches occurring more than fifteen days per month with pain lasting four hours or more over a three-month period are considered to be “chronic migraines”.

Migraines may be triggered by various factors, and three out of four migraine sufferers describe specific triggers. Common examples of these triggers are physical exertion, stress, hormonal changes, weather changes, and others.

Tension headaches are the most common primary headaches. Such headaches may be misdiagnosed as migraines and vice versa.

Cluster headaches are severe attacks of pain on one side of the head lasting between fifteen minutes and three hours. These headaches may occur every other day or as often as eight times each day. Cluster headaches may be associated with facial sweating, restlessness, agitation or nasal congestion.

Other types of headaches include those brought on by exertion or coughing.  They may be described as feeling like stabbing pain or other equally unpleasant feelings.

If you or someone that you know suffers from headaches, we can generally help determine whether or not migraine headache is a proper diagnosis. The determination is made based upon the patient’s history and description of the pain as well as a screening examination to rule out the possibility of TMJ-type pain. We even have a computerized evaluation system to diagnose which muscle or muscles may be causing the problem. Patients often find it hard to believe that their headaches may be related to their jaw joints or their bite. The truth is, the connection between head and neck pain and the muscles involved in moving the jaw as well as those holding the head erect are commonly the source of such pain.

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If you have a question about headaches or would like additional information please feel free to contact us via our website www.DesignsForDentalHealth.com or by calling our office at 908.359.6655.

What Are Loupes And Why Must Your Dentist Wear Them?

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Dr. Nadler and Zora Circa 2003

Dental loupes are the magnifying glasses that dentists wear to enlarge everything that they see in the mouth. There are two basic reasons why these glasses are worn. First and foremost, vision is improved simply because everything in the field of view is so much bigger. Secondly, loupes are worn to allow dentists to have a more “physiologic” posture while working, and thereby minimize the slouching which dentists are historically known to develop.

 

Why is it important to have an enlarged view of the working area? The most obvious answer is that a better and enlarged view of the treatment site automatically results in more precise dental work. Dentists are better able to see the shapes that they are carving or preparing in the natural teeth as well as in the final restorations which they are providing for their patients. Perhaps even more importantly, dentists are better able to make more accurate and complete diagnoses of what is occurring in each patient’s mouth.

 

As an example, I was testing out a new product which was touted to assist in better diagnoses of oral cancer. This system required the wearing of colored lenses used in conjunction with a special light. Using this system, I would be unable to wear my loupes. I first examined a patient using this new system without magnification. And then, put on my loupes and re-examined the patient. There was no comparison between the two examinations. Without magnification, even with the special light effect, much more was visible and apparent with magnification.

 

I began wearing loupes back around 1990 while I was taking advanced classes at the L.D.  Pankey Institute in Florida. It was at this time when I truly feel that the quality of the treatment which our office provided moved to an entirely new and higher plateau. Not only was I learning some amazing skills, but also the use of the loupes alone allowed significant improvement in my ability to provide excellent treatment.  Since that time, the loupes that I use have gotten increasingly longer and provide more magnification. These glasses are simply addictive to any dentist who is serious about doing his or her absolute best work.

 

A few years after beginning to wear them, I decided to try a headlight mounted right on the  loupes. After the first patient to be seen with this light, and in spite of the discomfort of extra weight on my nose, there was no turning back. The benefits of the light are nearly as significant as those of the loupes themselves. As good as the overhead dental light is, there are still shadows as we lean in as well as from the lips and tongue, etc.  Whereas, wearing the loop-mounted headlight, the light shines exactly where I am looking.

 

I don’t see how any dentist can work without either magnification or head-mounted lights. I believe that dental schools should teach the use of this equipment as mandatory – at least in the final year of dental school. If you’ve ever seen the intraoral photographs that we take for our patients, you’ll know what it’s like to look through loupes with light. It’s just so easy to see!

 

If you have not had the opportunity to see an intraoral photo of your teeth, please ask us for a demonstration at your next appointment. It will only take a moment and can be quite eye opening. If you have any questions or concerns please visit us online at www.DesignsForDentalHealth.com or call us at 908-359-6655.

Does Your Posture Make You Look Older?

As we discussed in an earlier blog article, many people develop poor posture for one reason or another – sleep apnea (often undiagnosed), slouching over a desk, poor physical condition, etc.  Whenever we treat patients for Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD), their posture must be addressed.  Simply by changing the position of a person’s head, the bite will change.  Try it for yourself.  Tap your teeth together while sitting or standing with your head level.  Now, tap the same way with your head tilted back and notice how differently the teeth meet.   Since a “bad” bite is the most common cause of TMD, the posture must first be “aligned” as we address the TMJ problem, and we do this using various techniques one of which will be highlighted in this article.

The simplest way that we employ to help correct the posture involves an exercise used to correct forward head position.  You may have read our earlier article about “Upper Crossed Syndrome” in which the head and neck are angled forward giving the appearance of “hunching” over.  Not only is this posture not proper for comfort and  physiology reasons, but people who carry themselves this way look older and less attractive.

 We ask our patients to address this posture problem while we are analyzing and treating their TMD problems by having them correct their hunching in this way:  Make believe that there is a string coming out of the top of your head.  Now see this string being pulled straight up so that you are being stretched taller.  Just sit or stand straighter, not military-style with the shoulders back, but just longer.  Finally, keeping your head level, tuck your chin back bringing your ears in line with your shoulders.  This exercise may be done during the day to help correct an acquired poor posture, while, at the same time, helping you to look younger and more “conditioned.”

Here is a link to a great video which demonstrates this exercise:  http://www.posturevideos.com/posture_video/forward-head-posture-correction/

If you have any questions about posture and TMD feel free to call us at 908.359.6655 or contact us via our website at www.DesignsForDental Health.com

Bad Posture and Heavy Heads

In my previous blog article, the significance of jaw position and fatigued muscles and their relationship to Tempromandiular Joint Disorder (TMD) was discussed.  I’d like to pick up where we left off by adding another piece to the contributing factor puzzle – posture.  For various reasons, people develop postural problems.  A common posture problem familiar to chiropractors, physical therapists and personal trainers is called Upper Crossed Syndrome.  You see people with this classic bad posture all the time.  Their backs are hunched over and their heads are in a pronounced forward position in front of their necks instead of balanced over the center of their bodies.

Upper Crossed Syndrome

Upper Crossed Syndrome

Such posture can be the result of chronically poor body positions while working (like dentists hunching over patients or office workers over their computers).  Breathing problems and poor sleep positions are other causes of Upper Crossed Syndrome.  How is this a contributing factor for TMD?   Well, for every inch forward of normal that the head is held forward, the muscles of the neck and back have to work as if they are carrying an extra ten pounds!   The result can be tender muscles and the entire jaw + skull + muscle + nerve “stomatognathic” system is out of balance.  People with such postures commonly complain of TMD, migraines, head and neck pain as well as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).    

Work Station Posture

Work Station Posture

Check out this article on “Upper Crossed Syndrome and the 42 Pound Head”  to learn more.  If you have questions about Upper Crossed Syndrome please contact us at 908.359.6655 or at our website www.DesignsForDentalHealth.com