If chronic headaches are a problem for you, you’ve probably heard all the conventional wisdom: make sure you are well hydrated, get more sleep, take your vitamins, reduce your stress levels, etc. If you’ve followed all this advice to no avail, there may be another hidden cause behind your pain. Knoxville dentist Dr. Jack Haney has helped many patients reduce their headaches by helping them uncover and treat conditions such as sleep apnea, bruxism and TMJ disorder.
Here’s a good place to start. In addition to headaches, do you experience any of the following symptoms?
- Feeling tired, despite getting a full night’s rest
- Overall energy lag, difficulty concentrating, sleepiness during the day
- Regular snoring or restless sleep
- Pain in the temples when you wake up in the morning
- Jaw pain, neck pain, or shifting in your TMJ (jaw joints)
These symptoms can indicate different conditions, and Dr. Haney can help you determine whether one of them may be behind your headaches.
When breathing through the nose causes noisy vibrations in the soft tissues of the throat (snoring), then mouth breathing may result. Many people think snoring is harmless, but the truth is that mouth breathing can lead to sub-optimal respiration and blood oxygenation when you sleep. This can lead to less beneficial sleep and an overall poor functioning in all your body systems. Your headaches may be related to this. If you are a snorer, Dr. Haney can fit you with a customized oral appliance that will open the airways and promote healthier nasal breathing (and less noise for your partner). Stop snoring and your headaches may stop, too.
While snoring is commonly found in patients with sleep apnea, they are not the same thing. Sleep apnea is when you stop breathing in your sleep, many times per night. The most common form is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), in which the airways become blocked when you are sleeping. This disorder has been linked with a number of serious medical conditions, such as cardiac disease, diabetes, arrhythmia and stroke.
When your sleep cycles are constantly interrupted by gasping and choking for air, your body and brain do not glean all the restorative and regenerative benefits of sleep. Cognitive function and ability to focus are diminished, and patients report multiple physical aches and pains, including headaches.
The best thing to do if you suspect you may have sleep apnea is see a sleep specialist and conduct a sleep study, so a proper diagnosis can be made. If you have OSA, Dr. Haney can fit you with an oral appliance that gently adjusts the jaw in a way to keep the airways open when you sleep.
When patients receive appropriate treatment for OSA they report better rest, feeling sharper, fewer headaches, and increased overall energy.
Bruxism and TMJ Disorder
A headache upon waking, especially in the temples, can be a sure sign that you are clenching or grinding your teeth when you sleep. On its own this is called bruxism and it can lead to cracked and worn-down tooth enamel, as well as head, neck, and jaw pain. Experts aren’t entirely sure of what causes bruxism, but we do know that a night guard worn in the mouth (like a dental retainer or sports mouth guard) can reduce the grinding and clenching, and thus the headaches.
When headaches are accompanied by jaw pain and popping or clicking sounds, it is often a sign of TMJ disorder, which is the result of dysfunction of the joints that connect the jaw to the face. TMJ disorder can be caused by bite misalignment, and can be treated with a number of possible therapies, including a night guard or oral appliance to reduce tension in the jaw.
Contact Dr. Haney Today!
If your headaches are accompanied by any of the symptoms described above, you may find relief with Knoxville sleep apnea and snoring treatment. Contact our office at 865-693-6886 for an appointment with Dr. Haney today!