Exploring the intricate relationship between orthodontics and headaches, it’s evident that the alignment of cranial structures plays a significant role. The delicate balance of cranial bones, cranial nerves, and blood vessels is vital for overall well-being. Factors like braces can introduce tensions that impact this balance, potentially leading to headaches. Understanding these dynamics can pave the way for more effective orthodontic care.
Understanding the Cranium
The bones that make up your head (cranium) are like a really complex puzzle. The places where the bones join up are called sutures. The way these bones move and interact with each other is really important for several reasons, including:
Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) levels increase and decrease periodically throughout the day, and the cranium needs to allow this to happen.
The cranial nerves need to have space so they can function optimally.
The blood vessels need to take blood in and out of the brain.
The cranium does not like compression. Compression impacts how all the structures cope with the fluid flow in and out of the head and, therefore, the pressure in the head. Compression impacts the cranial nerves. If the cranial sutures, or some of them, get restricted for some reason, or the cranium gets out of alignment, it can impact, e.g., fluid drainage out of the head, which can lead to fogginess or congestion headaches.
This is really common after concussions. Restrictions created by hits to the head mean the cranial bones can’t expand well when CSF levels are higher or relax back when they’re lower – because they’re stuck.
Can Braces Cause Headaches and Dizziness?
When someone gets braces, the aim is to straighten their teeth. Braces and headaches often intersect when individuals undergo orthodontic treatment. The braces use tension to pull the teeth into a different position, and because the teeth are embedded in the upper and lower jaw, they, too, are subject to the tension created by the braces. Sometimes braces even try to correct overbites, so they’re physically trying to rearrange the jaw alignment.
This amount of long-term pulling and tension has an enormous impact on the cranium. As we already mentioned, the cranium does not like compression. As the jaw changes, the cranium tries to adjust to keep the balance, and things start distorting from optimal alignment.
When the cranium alignment is not ideal, it also impacts the upper neck’s alignment. Headaches can be caused by issues in the upper neck and/or alignment issues and tightness in the cranium.
How to Ensure Braces Don’t Cause Headaches
Ensuring that braces don't lead to headaches during orthodontic treatment involves understanding the potential triggers and proactively managing them. While headaches from braces are common, there are steps to minimize their occurrence.
Firstly, selecting an experienced orthodontist is crucial. A skilled professional will ensure that the braces are adjusted properly, reducing the likelihood of excessive tension that might contribute to headaches. Regular appointments allow for gradual adjustments, minimizing sudden shifts that could lead to discomfort.
Secondly, maintaining overall oral health aids in preventing headaches. Proper oral hygiene prevents gum inflammation and oral infections that could exacerbate discomfort. Moreover, consuming soft foods during the initial days of braces can alleviate stress on the jaw and minimize the likelihood of headaches.
Additionally, practicing jaw relaxation techniques can be beneficial. Stress and tension often contribute to headaches, and learning to consciously relax the jaw can mitigate this effect. Gentle jaw exercises recommended by orthodontists can further help in easing muscle tension.
Lastly, staying hydrated is essential. Dehydration can exacerbate discomfort, including headaches. Drinking enough water supports the body's overall function and can alleviate the potential for headaches.
Seeking Help from a Skilled Physiotherapist
Headaches from braces are quite common. We recommend that when braces get put on or removed, and each time the tensions are adjusted, a physio skilled in cranial assessments and releases assesses your neck and cranial bones. This way, they can identify areas of tension and restriction early to help prevent headaches and other issues. As you embark on your orthodontic journey, consider the broader impact on your cranial and neurological well-being. To ensure a smoother experience, seek guidance from experts. Connect with skilled physiotherapists proficient in cranial assessments, helping you pave the way for optimal oral health and overall comfort.