If your child has been experiencing recent headaches and you’re struggling to locate the cause, one area you may not have considered is improper tooth or jaw alignment. Also known as malocclusion within the dental world, this sort of misalignment is possible in a few ways in both children and adults, and often leads to a significantly higher risk of headaches and possibly other symptoms as well.
At Southridge Pediatric Dentistry, we’re proud to offer a huge range of children’s dentist services, from basic cleanings and fluoride treatments to more advanced needs like sedation dentistry and assistance with misalignment issues that are causing problems. For parents of children suffering from headaches with no other apparent cause, let’s go over some basics on determining if tooth misalignment might be playing a role, plus how we’ll help.
While some think of teeth as only important for chewing food, this is not actually the case. Teeth also play a vital role in supporting the jaw and facial muscles, and issues here can lead to several problems in related areas.
If your child has a short, crooked, missing or spaced-out tooth, or if they’re dealing with an overbite or crossbite issue, this will create extra stress on the jaw joints. These joints, in turn, are connected to numerous facial muscles that extend to the temples, cheeks and even neck. When these muscles are forced to be tense too often, they often lead directly to the headaches your child is experiencing.
How can you know if your child is dealing with a misalignment? In many cases, they’ll exhibit signs that both indicate misalignment and may help cause it: Things like mouth breathing, tongue thrusting, reverse swallowing and thumb sucking.
Even if you don’t see these, you may be aware of your child’s risk here due to genetics. Most malocclusions are inherited based on jaw size and alignment, though the activities we listed above – plus issues like allergies or asthma – can also contribute to the development of a misaligned jaw.
In many cases, parents will look to use over-the-counter pain relievers for these headaches. These will work for symptoms, but pain relief will only be temporary – to get rid of it permanently, you must address the root cause.
In some cases, simply fixing spaced or crooked teeth will remedy the issue entirely. In others, a well-trained dentist will assist with methods of expanding the upper jaw for many children with such issues. This shaping will be done on both the upper and lower jaws into the correct positions, lowering tension and relieving bite-related headaches while also making breathing and swallowing more comfortable.
For more on relieving headaches and other issues caused by tooth misalignment, or to learn about any of our pediatric dental services, speak to the staff at Southridge Pediatric Dentistry today.