Relieving headaches and face pain

At Warragul Dental Care we diagnose the most common causes of headaches, face pain and jaw pain, and provide quick relief to let you get on with life.

Headaches, face and jaw pain can be debilitating, especially when the pain never seems to go away. A lot of people don’t think about visiting their Dentist to talk about pain but a specially trained Dentist can quickly diagnose the most common cause of head and face pain and offer effective treatment.

An estimated 90% of headaches are caused by muscle tension, which can be easily treated by your Dentist. We also treat problems such as teeth grinding, clenching and jaw lock. At Warragul Dental Care we work closely with local General Practitioners (GP’s), Osteopaths and Physiotherapists to tackle the root of the problem and keep you in control of your pain.

What’s TMJ and TMD, and do I need to know about it?

If you’ve been Doctor Googling headaches and soreness around your neck and temples you might have stumbled across the acronyms TMJ and TMD. They’re pretty techy terms and more for the professionals to use when talking to each other than for our patients, but here’s a brief explanation:

TMJ is short for ‘Temporomandibular Joint’, which is your jaw joint.
TMD is the acronym for ‘Temporomandibular Disorders’, which is a cover-all term for any pain or problems related to your face muscles or jaw joint.

And that’s it! They’re pretty long names that we’ll almost never use at Warragul Dental Care because we don’t want to add to your headaches!

What to expect when you visit Warragul Dental Care for face pain

When you call Warragul Dental Care for an appointment make sure you let us know you need some help with headaches or jaw pain.

We’ll book you in for a 40 minute consultation with Dr Anand where he’ll assess your condition and give an accurate diagnosis. During this appointment we’ll more than likely take an x-ray so we can see what’s happening around your jaw. We’ll also talk about your diet, lifestyle and work environment, as these can all impact the muscles around your head and neck. The first appointment won’t involve any prodding or poking in your mouth, it’s more about understanding you, your history and getting a clear picture of what’s happening with your face, neck and jaw.

What kind of things will we diagnose?

The number one reason for headaches and face pain is muscle tension.

Imagine carrying a 10kg weight in your outstretched arm all day – by the end of the day your arm is going to be aching and pretty sore. Well it’s similar with a tension headache. All the muscles in your head work together and pull on each other all day, until it starts to feel like there’s a vice tightening around your head that gets worse as the day goes on. And the problem is muscles have a memory, which means once they start to tighten they’ll probably keep doing it day after day. Over-the-counter medication can help with short-term pain relief, but it won’t fix the reasons behind the pain.

Another common problem is an issue with your jaw joint.  You have a cushion of cartilage between the top and bottom of your jaw joint and it’s pretty common for the cartilage to get thin and weak and be pushed into the wrong position.  This can cause two problems – 1. A clicking jaw (not that painful but it can get annoying) and 2. A locked jaw.  If your jaw has locked it means that flimsy bit of cartilage has moved into a position where it’s stopping you from being able to open your jaw properly. If this happens please call us immediately, or get someone to call on your behalf (it can be hard to talk with a locked jaw).

You might also have problems with your bite, which will cause discomfort in your jaw. If your bite is off it can cause early wear and tear on your teeth and pull on muscles in the wrong way causing headaches and discomfort.

Other reasons for headaches and pain

Brain conditions and problems with nerves, arthritic pain, saliva glands can also cause pain and discomfort. These aren’t as common as the conditions listed above but if we suspect they’re the cause of your problems we’ll refer you to your GP.

How we relieve your pain

Warragul Dental Care offer three treatments to help with your pain. We’ll assess your problem before recommending one of the following:

A dental splint

This sounds a lot scarier than it really is! A dental splint is made of clear plastic that sits over your lower teeth to cushion them when you bite your teeth together. This is used to help with the symptoms of jaw and muscle tension and with bite problems. The splint won’t stop the muscle tension but it will protect your teeth and stop them from chipping and breaking. It can sometimes help with pain as it holds your jaw in a slightly different position which can disrupt the muscle activity – so it will help, but won’t fix the cause of the problem.

Dry needling/Saline injections

By injecting saline (special medical water) into your muscles we’re telling them to chill out and stop working so hard. This gives your head a chance to relax and enjoy the experience of being pain-free. The effects of this will last around 2-4 weeks before the muscles will fire up again.

Botox injection/muscle relaxant

Botox is most commonly known for its use in the cosmetic industry, but long before it became popular for ironing out wrinkles it was (and still is) used in the medical industry to treat a number of medical conditions. At Warragul Dental Care we use Botox to alleviate headaches by injecting it directly into the tense muscles. Dr Anand has undertaken special training in this procedure, which means it’s completely safe and administered by a trusted health professional.

Botox works by completely disrupting muscle activity – it literally stops the muscles in its tracks. It also has the longer-term effect of teaching the muscles to slow down and ease off so they stop pulling on your head. It gives immediate relief to anyone suffering from tension headaches. The effects are more long-term than saline injections and last between 2 and 4 months. The more Botox treatments you have, the less you’ll need, as your muscles will slowly learn to unravel and take life at a slower pace.

We know you’re all curious and the answer is yes, Botox will soften out the muscles in your face and have the same effects as Botox used in the cosmetic industry. Consider it a bonus.

We refer you to other health professionals  

Headaches and face pain are best tackled by a range of health professions. A combined approach gives you the best chance of controlling your pain and finding a long-term solution. For example, if you’re suffering from muscle tension, we’re able to give immediate pain relief, but to address the root of the problem we’ll recommend speaking to an Osteopath or physiotherapist. These professions can help diagnose whether your muscle tension is referred pain from an injury, tightness somewhere else in your body or a postural issue. They may recommend exercises or classes that can help control your pain.

Some of the great people we work with include the Progressive Rehabilitation Group and Warragul Osteopathic Clinic.

Let’s make some headway!

If you need relief from head, neck or jaw pain it’s time to call the professionals! To book an appointment with Dr Anand call (03) 5623 5588 or pop into 49 Victoria Street, Warragul to chat to the team.