When you think about someone having a headache, you probably think of an adult. But many kids have headaches, too. Chronic or frequent headaches can be tough to handle – and are even harder to understand when one is young – especially if conventional treatments do not seem to be improving the child’s condition.
Can misaligned teeth cause headaches?
If your child often complains of headaches and you notice that he or she often breathes through his/her mouth, or that his/her teeth are not well-aligned, your child’s headache might actually be related to his/her jaw and teeth misalignment.
Researchers have found that malocclusion (teeth misalignment) in children and adolescents significantly increases the risk of headaches. Children with overbite, overjet, and/or crossbite are 8.5 times more likely to report headaches. (See Do I Have A Bad Bite to understand teeth misalignment)
In a 2007 research article in “Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop”, Lambourne C. and team found that “overbite, overjet, and posterior crossbite showed significant associations with an increased risk for headaches. The combination of 2 or more of these 3 occlusal factors increased the risk of headache 8.5 times in 50 children and adolescents aged 8 to 16 who reported headaches.”
In their 2014 research article in “Community Dent Oral Epidemiology”, Komazaki Y. and team “found that malocclusion, especially lower crowding, was associated with headache in a population-based sample of 938 adolescents aged 12-15 years in Japan”
How are teeth related to headaches?
Contrary to the common belief that teeth are limited to chewing, teeth also play a part in supporting our facial muscles.
When a child has short, crooked, spaced out or missing teeth, or when his/her top front teeth do not cover the bottom front teeth in the proper alignment, the unnatural stress is transferred to the jaw joints.
Because our jaw joints are connected to many muscles which extend to the temples, cheeks and neck, prolonged tension on the jaw due to bad teeth alignment cause the muscles to tense up and result in headaches. (Understand how your bite affects your body here.)
Why does my child have misaligned teeth?
Most malocclusions are inherited. Such conditions include differences in jaw size, poorly aligned jaws, crowded teeth, extra teeth, and missing teeth.
Childhood habits such as mouth breathing, tongue thrusting, reverse swallowing and thumb sucking will also alter the development of your jaws.
Allergies, asthma and an open mouth posture also contribute to incorrect jaw development.
Why should my child see a dentist to treat his/her headache?
Most people with headache use nonprescription pain relievers to treat their symptoms, but the pain relief is only temporary if the root cause is not addressed.
For some children, their headaches are simply due to misalignment of their teeth, which transfers stress to their jaw joints and as a result, cause tension in muscles in the head.
For children with breathing difficulties, you may often notice that they breathe through their mouth a lot. Opened mouth breathing is bad for upper jaw development; a narrow upper jaw will develop and it cannot close properly on the lower jaw, resulting in tension in the jaw joints as well.
A dentist trained in functional appliance can help your child expand the upper jaw while it is still in the mouldable phase, shaping both upper and lower jaws into the correct positions. This will relieve the tension on his/her jaw joints and hence his bite-related headaches.
When the jaws are expanded to their natural positions, the child’s tongue will have more room in the oral cavity, the airway will be more opened as a result. This can also help to relieve the child’s discomfort in breathing.
Furthermore, our dentists can help to correct his/her misaligned teeth at the same time, reducing the need for prolonged orthodontic work in the future.
Call DP Dental at +65 6282 0122 now to schedule an appointment for your child!