5 Things To Eat After a Dental Procedure

Most of us know the feeling of a numb mouth all too well. We also know just how difficult it can be to eat or drink while you’re waiting to get your feeling back. Finding comfortable foods can get even more difficult after certain dental procedures, such as wisdom teeth removal or dental implant placement. Luckily, your dentist in Wicker Park has a recipe book full of easy-to-eat foods after a dental procedure. 

  • Ice Cream

This cold favorite is popular for those who just had their tonsils removed, but it can also be great following dental procedures that may leave you feeling a little sore. The softness of the ice cream is easy to chew or simply let melt in your mouth. Pair that with the comforting cooling effect and it’s a great way to get relief while also treating yourself to a delicious snack. 

  • Jell-O 

For our lactose-intolerant patients or for those looking to take a break from ice cream, Jell-O is another great food to eat after dental treatment. It’s easy to make, it’s cheap, and it comes in a rainbow of flavors sure to fit any palate. Plus, like ice cream, it’s cold so it can help reduce inflammation and ease discomfort. 

  • Mashed Potatoes

If you’re looking for an option that feels less like a snack and more like something you’d have with a meal, mash up some potatoes. Either a regular russet potato or even a savory sweet potato will help give you healthy nutrients, fuel your body, and make you feel a little bit full. Your dentist in Wicker Park is a fan of sweet potatoes because they have anti-inflammatory properties that can be good for oral health. 

  • Soup

Another delicious and comforting option that comes in many flavors is soup. Whether you choose a broth or the classic chicken noodle, make sure all of the ingredients are soft and easy to chew. A big bowl of vegetable-loaded soup can make you feel as if you ate a complete meal and give your body all the nutrients veggies provide. There is one thing to note, however. If you’re recovering from wisdom teeth surgery, make sure your soup is warm and not really hot. Things that are too hot can actually make the healing process longer and more complicated. 

  • Fish

While fish isn’t necessarily the first thing you think of when trying to find something to eat, it’s a great option following dental treatment. Fish like tuna and salmon are very soft and very easy to chew. Plus, they’re packed with healthy fats that are good for any diet. 

Besides eating foods that are soft and easy to chew, if you even need to chew them at all, it’s also important to make sure you’re drinking enough water. Try your best to drink 64 ounces of water every day to keep your body and mouth healthy and hydrated. 

Nobody necessarily wants to have dental treatment, but it’s more common than you may realize. But choosing the best dentist in Wicker Park for your needs can make all of the difference. If you know you’re in need of dental treatment or it’s simply been more than six months since you have been to the dentist, we welcome you to give us a call to schedule an appointment today.

Can Facemasks Cause Bad Breath? 

Has wearing a facemask caused you to change the way you breathe? Unless you’re a professional painter or a doctor, you’re probably not used to wearing a facemask at all, let alone for extended periods of time. As a result, you’ve probably accidentally started breathing out of your mouth instead of your nose. Many people find that mouth breathing while wearing a mask is more comfortable, but your dentist in Wicker Park wants you to know that this type of breathing can have an unwanted, stinky side effect. 

But First, An Important Note 

We promise to get into the stinky details of mouth breathing in a minute, but first, we need to say that the potential oral health side effects of facemasks do not outweigh their protective benefits. We are not suggesting you stop wearing a mask. We promise to give you some tips at the end of this blog to help you avoid the side effects we discuss. Please continue to wear a mask in public and maintain social distancing. 

Now, Back to the Show! 

Ok, now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about mouth breathing and smelly breath. If you’re not normally a mouth breather, you may not quite realize the dry mouth feeling we’re referring to. Let us help. Think back to last time you had a stuffy nose and you had to breathe out of your mouth. Do you remember how dry your mouth was? How uncomfortable it felt? That’s dry mouth, and some people have it all of the time. It’s also what can happen if you breathe out of your mouth instead of your nose, with or without a facemask. It’s also what concerns your dentist in Wicker Park

Mouth Breathing & Bad Breath

When we breathe using our mouths instead of our noses and we start to experience that dry mouth feeling, it’s because all of our saliva has dried up. In fact, dry mouth can even prevent more saliva from being produced. Why does this matter? Well, a healthy mouth needs a constant flow of saliva as it helps rinse away bacteria. Without saliva, these bacteria are left free to feed on food leftovers. When they’re done eating, they release a stinky byproduct. That’s what we smell when we get a whiff of bad breath. But as your dentist in Wicker Park knows, bad breath isn’t the only thing that can happen as a result of mouth breathing. 

Dry Mouth & Cavities

Remember how we said we need saliva to help remove bad breath bacteria? Well, we also need saliva to neutralize acids in the mouth. If those acids are not neutralized, they can eat away at tooth enamel, weakening this protective barrier. This makes it easier for bacteria to wiggle in and cause cavities.

Preventing Dry Mouth 

As we promised earlier, there are things you can do to prevent dry mouth. Now, the best way to keep dry mouth from happening is to dry your best to breathe in and out of your nose. But if you’re not comfortable doing that while wearing a mask, try some of the following tips. 

  • Chew Gum. Chewing gum that contains Xylitol can help jumpstart saliva production and keep it flowing. Sucking on sugarless hard candies can also have a similar effect. 
  • Drink Water. We should all drink water throughout the day, at least eight 8 ounce glasses is the minimum recommendation. But if you’re at risk for dry mouth or already have dry mouth, drinking more water can help rehydrate the mouth and rinse away bad bacteria and neutralize those dangerous acids.  
  • Brush Regularly. Make sure that you brush your teeth twice a day to help further remove bacteria and leftover foods. It’s also important to floss once a day to clean areas a toothbrush can’t reach. 

It doesn’t appear as facemasks are going away any time soon. So while they’re here, make sure you protect your oral health by trying to consciously breathe out of your nose or try the tips above to help keep your mouth moist and stink-free. Of course, if you have questions about dry mouth, call your dentist in Wicker Park to schedule an appointment. 

More Stress, More Oral Health Problems 

An article recently published by the New York Times details one dentist’s experience seeing an increase of patients with cracked teeth over the past few months. What could be causing this? Well, all of our lives have been flipped upside down and shaken up this year, and this can cause some stress — naturally. This stress may just be the cause of some dental problems, including cracked teeth. Join your dentist in Wicker Park as we share just how stress and other factors can influence your oral health. 

Teeth Clenching & Grinding

Our bodies react to stress in interesting ways. Sometimes our gut health is affected. Other times it’s our oral health. During periods of high stress, many people may begin clenching or grinding their teeth, and oftentimes they don’t even know it or they may be doing it subconsciously while sleeping. This repeated movement of teeth against teeth can cause teeth to wear down and appear shorter. It can also cause teeth to crack, break, or chip, requiring treatment from your dentist in Wicker Park. But even that’s not all. Clenching and grinding your teeth puts unnecessary and unnatural stress on the jaw joint and can cause severe TMJ pain or TMJ disorder. 

Gum Disease

Prolonged periods of stress can also increase someone’s risk of developing gum disease. Gum disease is an infection deep under the gum line that requires professional dental treatment. However, if it’s not treated, gum disease can cause other problems throughout the body and put overall health at risk. Gum disease has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, respiratory disease, and even certain cancers. Besides stress, other things that increase the risk of gum disease include poor dental hygiene, smoking, and seeing your dentist in Wicker Park every six months for deep cleanings. 

How To Decrease Stress

We understand that the current state of the world can easily cause stress levels to spike and put us at risk for both oral health problems and whole-body concerns. But one of the best things you can do during uncertain, stressful times is to learn effective ways to lower stress. Some stress-reduction techniques include: 

  • Sleeping. Falling and staying asleep can be difficult when we’re stressed out and our minds won’t stop racing. But it’s crucial to your health to get enough sleep every day. Not only can sleeping enough lower stress (and probably make it easier to fall asleep), it can also give your body time to recover and keep you healthy. Try listening to calming sounds, avoiding your phone an hour before going to bed, and keeping a regular sleep schedule. 
  • Meditating. Mediating has been proven to lower heart rate and help us feel relaxed, thus lowering stress. Find a free app on your phone that will guide you through meditations and teach you how to effectively lower stress by simply breathing. Meditation is like anything else, you need to practice it to get really good at it so be sure to schedule time each day to focus and meditate. 
  • Exercising. Another proven way to lower stress and boost health is to exercise often. Whether you choose an online spin class, practice yoga, or run or walk, make sure you get a good sweat session daily. 

Now and always, it’s important to keep your stress levels low and immune system high to keep yourself healthy. Find a stress-reduction plan that works for you, eat a well-balanced diet, and see your dentist in Wicker Park every six months.

Are Dental Implants Better Than Dentures? 

Nobody wants to experience tooth loss, but the truth is, millions of Americans are missing one or even all of their teeth, according to the American College of Prosthodontists. While tooth loss can be caused by any number of things such as gum disease, trauma, or decay, your dentist in Wicker Park can often replace a missing tooth or even a whole mouth of missing teeth. But there are several treatment options available, and determining the best tooth replacement option for you depends on a variety of factors.

Dentures

Until relatively recently, there were only a handful of treatments available to help patients replace missing teeth. Most commonly, a few missing teeth were replaced with a dental bridge or partial denture, and a full mouth of missing teeth was replaced by dentures. These tooth replacement options are all removable, temporary treatments that do require some maintenance. They must be removed, cleaned, and soaked every night, and dentures require adhesive to stay in place throughout the day, which may not be the ideal solution for you. Additionally, dentures can end up slipping and sliding around in the mouth, making eating and speaking difficult, even if they’re a perfect fit and well-crafted. While all of these options still exist today and may be the right replacement option for you, we now also have the option of dental implants.  

Dental Implants

Dental implants are often the treatment of choice for your dentist in Wicker Park because, unlike dentures, they’re permanent, function more like natural teeth, and help keep your jaw bone stimulated and strong. Dental implants provide health benefits, such as: 

  • Improved appearance, speech, and comfort. Dental implants look and feel so much like your natural teeth that nobody will even know you have them. This also means that they tend to feel more comfortable in the mouth, and you don’t have to deal with them slipping around as you try to eat and talk. 
  • Being able to eat what you want. Many people with dentures find eating certain foods such as corn or things with seeds to be difficult and uncomfortable. However, patients with implants find that there are no restrictions on what they can eat because their implants function and allow them to chew just like natural teeth. 
  • Better oral health. There’s no soaking involved with dental implants, and you can continue to brush and floss normally. This often means less decay and better oral health overall. 

Dental implant treatment does involve a minor surgery, during which a titanium implant post is placed into your jaw bone, which will function like tooth roots. It will take some time for the bone to fuse with the metal, but the result is a super-strong permanent base for your new tooth or teeth. Once healing is complete, an abutment will be added to the post, and your dental team will top it with a custom crown. Your dentist may also be able to place an entire set of brand new teeth on a few implants for a brand new complete smile. 

If you think that dental implants or dentures may be right for you, call your dentist in Wicker Park to schedule a consultation. Your dental team will perform an exam and take a closer look at your individual situation to find the best tooth replacement option for you.

Is Soy Milk Good For Teeth?

woman with glass of milkIt probably comes as no surprise to hear your dentist in Wicker Park talk about all of the oral health benefits associated with drinking milk. But not all milk is created equal when it comes to building strong and healthy teeth. In fact, one of the most popular alternatives to cow’s milk, soy milk, can actually be worse for your teeth. 

Soy Milk & Oral Health

Many people have turned away from drinking cow’s milk in favor of plant-based alternatives such as soy milk. While soy milk can certainly help reduce caloric intake with only 80-100 calories per cup and it packs just as much of a protein punch as cow’s milk, it may not be as beneficial to your teeth and may even harm them. But how can that be? Doesn’t soy milk have calcium and vitamin D, the two things that make cow’s milk so great for teeth? Well, even though soy milk does contain this vitamin and mineral power team, there is less of it than cow’s milk. Additionally, research suggests that after drinking soy milk, mouth bacteria produced five to six times more acid as compared to drinking cow’s milk. This is concerning for your dentist in Wicker Park. You see, more acid typically means more damage to the protective tooth enamel, and reduced protection means more risk for tooth decay and cavities. But that’s not all, many brands of soy milk also contain added sugars, and as everyone knows, sugar is no friend of teeth. As always, we need to recognize that more research is needed to fully understand the effects of soy milk on teeth, but this is a good place to start. 

What’s So Great About Cow’s Milk? 

Even though many people may choose to drink a milk alternative, and that’s ok, we still want to make sure that our patients and neighbors know the benefits of good old-fashioned cow’s milk. First and foremost, as we mentioned above, cow’s milk is loaded with two things our teeth love and need — calcium and vitamin D. When combined, calcium and vitamin D work to replenish lost minerals from teeth and tooth enamel. This can protect teeth from bacteria, acid, decay, and cavities and help keep teeth super strong. 

What If You Can’t Drink Cow’s Milk? 

Your dentist in Wicker Park understands that some people may not be able to drink cow’s milk whether due to lactose intolerance, other dietary restrictions, or religious reasons. But that doesn’t mean these individuals can’t get their daily dose of vitamin D and calcium through other means. If you’re someone who can’t drink cow’s milk or has trouble digesting it, make sure to supplement your calcium and vitamin intake through other foods and drinks such as: 

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Fish
  • Egg yolks
  • Calcium-fortified coconut or almond milk

Besides eating well and getting enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet, it’s also important to see your dentist in Wicker Park for regular checkups and dental cleanings every six months. This combination of eating right and proper preventive dental care can go a long way in keeping your smile strong and healthy for a lifetime. 

Is Dry Mouth Serious? 

Think back to the last time your nose was so stuffy you had no choice but to breathe out of your mouth. Do you remember what your mouth felt like? It was probably dry, scratchy, and almost sticky. This is appropriately known as dry mouth. While dry mouth is an annoying and uncomfortable feeling, it’s usually not serious when experienced occasionally. However, if you have a dry mouth that doesn’t go away, it could lead to some concerning oral health problems for your dentist in Wicker Park

What’s So Bad About Dry Mouth? 
When your mouth feels dry it means that your salivary glands aren’t producing enough saliva to keep the inside of your mouth wet and well lubricated. This can be a problem if it happens day after day. Healthy mouths need saliva in order to help fight off damaging bacteria and acids that can cause decay or other oral health problems. But when there’s enough saliva to rinse away these acids and bacteria, your teeth are at risk. 

Causes of Dry Mouth
Like many ailments, unfortunately, there’s no one cause for dry mouth. But there are a few top culprits that your Wicker Park dentist sees regularly. Some of the most common causes of dry mouth include: 

  • Dehydration – Perhaps the most common explanation behind dry mouth is simply dehydration or not drinking enough water. It’s important to drink at least eight 8 ounce glasses of water throughout the day every day to keep your mouth (and your body) properly hydrated. If you work out or just sweat a lot, you will need to up your water intake. Usually, dry mouth caused by dehydration is quickly reversed once you replenish your body with lost water. However, if your dry mouth still doesn’t go away, you should consider other explanations.
  • Medications – Medications are another common cause of dry mouth. Now, dry mouth caused by medicine doesn’t usually go away by drinking water and staying hydrated. It’s usually chronic and ongoing. Both prescription and over-the-counter medications are known to cause dry mouth. In fact, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of meds that list dry mouth as a side effect. Make sure you read the precautions and common side effects of any medicine you take, and if you notice that your medication may be causing dry mouth, talk with your dentist in Wicker Park. Never stop taking medication without talking to your doctor.
  • Alcohol & Tobacco – Those who use tobacco products or drink alcohol regularly are more likely to have dry mouth. Both tobacco and alcohol are naturally drying, and when they’re introduced to the mouth regularly, dry mouth can become a chronic condition. 
  • Disease Have you ever wondered why your dentist needs to know your whole health history and not just your oral health history? The reason behind this is because there are many ways your oral health affects your overall health and vice versa. For example, some diseases and medical conditions can cause dry mouth, and in turn, increase the risk of decay. Some common diseases that have been linked with dry mouth include diabetes, Parkinson’s, HIV/AIDS, and Sjögren’s syndrome. Make sure you’re honest with your dentist about your overall health so you can get the best dental care for you.

How Can You Treat Dry Mouth? 
Every person’s case of dry mouth is different, and that means that treatment will vary depending on what’s causing the dry mouth in the first place. Your dentist in Wicker Park will be able to help you find the best dry mouth treatment for you, but it’s also important to make sure you’re doing all the right things at home to help. Make sure you: 

  • Drink enough water 
  • Limit or avoid caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco
  • Chew sugarless gum to help boost saliva production

If you’re concerned dry mouth may be causing dental problems, or you’re just ready to get dry mouth relief once and for all, call our dental office to schedule an appointment. We’re always happy to help. 

Sun’s Out, Gums Out: How Sunshine Benefits Oral Health

sunshineWe’re heading into the dog days of summer, which typically means really hot days and a lot of sunshine. This can be great for enjoying some time in the pool, on the lake, or at the beach, but your dentist in Wicker Park wants you to know that all of this sun can also be great for your oral and overall health thanks to the extra boost of vitamin D. 

The Power of Vitamin D

The sun is a pretty powerful thing — it helps us grow food, it keeps us warm, and it prevents the planet from turning into a giant ice ball. But the sun’s benefits run even deeper. In fact, we have the sun to thank for helping our bodies stay happy and healthy thanks to a little thing called vitamin D. Vitamin D is an essential vitamin that helps our overall and oral health in so many ways, such as: 

  • Calcium AbsorptionWe all know that calcium is needed to help build strong bones and teeth. But your dentist in Wicker Park also knows that without vitamin D, the benefits of calcium don’t go as far. Calcium needs vitamin D in order to absorb properly and completely, and in order for your body to get all of the benefits of calcium. 
  • Protection Against Tooth DecaySimilarly to the above, several studies also suggest a positive correlation between vitamin D and the prevention of tooth decay. Researchers have even shown that vitamin D can lower the risk of tooth decay by 50%!
  • Immune System SupportVitamin D can also help support the immune system and help it function properly. While this connection is complex, there is proof that vitamin D helps regulate and balance the immune system to protect us from germs, viruses, and infections. 

The best way to get vitamin D is through some good old fashioned sunshine. But as we all know, too much sun can have negative effects, such as a painful sunburn and an increased risk for skin cancer. Enjoy sunlight in moderation and know your limits. Most researchers agree that anywhere between 5 and 30 minutes of sunshine a day is all it takes to get enough vitamin D. 

Good Sources of Vitamin D

Getting enough vitamin D can be difficult, especially during winter months or over several days of dreary, rainy weather. When the sun isn’t an option, you can get your vitamin D by choosing foods that contain it. Some foods that are good sources of vitamin D are: 

  • Fatty fish such as salmon or tuna
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Fortified cereal, orange juice, or yogurt 

Knowing all of the benefits associated with sunshine and vitamin D, trust your dentist in Wicker Park when they say to get outside, enjoy the weather, and soak up some rays. Just make sure you limit your exposure to direct sunlight and wear sunscreen if you’ll be outside for an extended period of time. 

What You Need to Know About Lip and Tongue Piercings

man with facial piercingOral piercings, including lip and tongue piercings, are nothing new. In fact, they have actually been around since the Mayans. However, this form of self-expression doesn’t come without its risks. If you’re considering getting your lip or tongue pierced, read this information from your dentist in Wicker Park before you go under the needle. 

Know The Risks

Like any type of piercing, a tongue or lip piercing requires your body to undergo minor trauma as well as introduces a foreign, metal object into your body. As a result, there are a few risks associated with an oral piercing such as: 

  • Infection. One of the most common side effects of piercings is infection. While infection can happen with any type of piercing, oral piercings may be more susceptible thanks to the ideal warm and moist environment the mouth provides, along with the fact that the mouth is already home to tons of bacteria. This type of environment is the perfect place for the bacteria to flourish and cause an infection. While these infections can be minor, there is a chance of a serious, life-threatening infection, too. Some infections may cause the tongue to swell, making it difficult to breathe.
  • Tooth & Nerve Damage. You’ve probably noticed that those with a pierced tongue or lip tend to play with the piercing a lot. This constant clicking and clanking of metal against teeth increase the likelihood of tooth damage – such as chipped teeth, broken teeth, and worn enamel – which can expose teeth to bacteria and decay. Damage to teeth will need to be fixed by your dentist in Wicker Park before it leads to bigger and potentially painful problems. But that’s not all. There’s also the risk of nerve damage. Our tongues are home to a lot of nerves, and if the piercing needle hits one at the wrong angle, you may experience temporary or sometimes permanent numbness. This nerve damage can also affect your sense of taste and how you speak. 
  • Gum Disease. Teeth and nerves aren’t the only things that can be damaged by tongue or lip piercings. Gum tissue is also at risk for damage caused by a lip or tongue ring. While that may sound like a minor inconvenience, the truth is that once gum tissue is damaged, it makes it incredibly easy for mouth bacteria to work their way up under the gums and settle in, resulting in gum disease. Gum disease is a serious concern for your dentist in Wicker Park as it can lead to chronic bad breath, tooth loss, and even whole-body health concerns such as heart disease. 

Protect Yourself

We’re not here to tell you that you can’t get a tongue or lip piercing, but we do encourage you to take the necessary steps to protect yourself against the risks above. Some things you can do include: 

  • Pick a professional piercer with a good track record and high sterilization standards. If they can’t answer your questions about safety and sanitation, choose someone else.
  • After you get the piercing, clean it well and clean it often to help minimize your risk of infection. 
  • Rinse your mouth out with water after you eat to help wash away any food particles that may have gotten stuck in your piercing. 
  • Avoid playing with your piercing to minimize the chance of tooth and gum damage. 
  • Oral hygiene is even more important for those with an oral piercing so make sure you maintain great oral hygiene at home and see your dentist in Wicker Park every six months

Most importantly, know the signs of infection and seek medical care immediately if you notice swelling, redness, fever, chills, or uncontrollable shaking. 

If you have any questions or concerns about oral piercings, talk with your dentist

“Why Do My Gums Hurt?”

man examines his gumsYou probably already know that when your teeth hurt, you should see your dentist in Wicker Park as soon as you can. But what do you do if you’re experiencing gum pain? When your gums hurt, it may be a sign of something serious happening in your mouth, or it could be something minor. How do you know the difference? Here are some of the common explanations behind why your gums may hurt. 

Gum Disease

One of the most common signs of gum disease is painful, swollen, red gums. You may experience increased pain when brushing or flossing your teeth, and you may also notice that your gums bleed during those activities. Gum disease is a serious oral health condition that doesn’t happen suddenly but rather over time and often due to poor oral hygiene. If left untreated, gum disease can lead a whole host of both oral and overall health concerns such as tooth loss, heart disease, kidney disease, and even some cancers. However, if caught early, gum disease can be treated successfully. This is one reason why seeing your dentist in Wicker Park every six months is so important. 

Oral Cancer

Another possible explanation for gum pain can be oral cancer. Even though oral cancer can affect the tongue, cheeks, throat, or the gums, it’s important to talk with your dentist in Wicker Park about any changes in your mouth, especially if they cause pain or are accompanied by a sore that doesn’t go away. Oral cancer usually presents itself as a sore, but it doesn’t necessarily have to feel sore, too, so make sure to monitor any abnormalities and report to your dentist sooner rather than later if they don’t go away. Oral cancer can be treated successfully, but the earlier it’s caught, the more successful treatment tends to be. 

Canker Sores

Speaking of sores in the mouth, canker sores are incredibly common and usually no cause for concern. However, they can cause gum pain. There’s no magic treatment to making a canker sore go away, and they will usually disappear on their own. But again, if what started out as what you thought was only a canker sore doesn’t get better on its own, a visit to a dentist in Wicker Park should be the next step. 

Hormones

Now, this explanation behind gum pain only applies to women, but it’s certainly worth mentioning. During different times in a woman’s life, she goes through hormonal changes, especially during menstruation or pregnancy. One area that can be affected by these shifts in hormone level is the gums. It’s common for women to experience swollen or bleeding gums during both pregnancy and a few days before their periods. The pain is usually temporary but you should still discuss it with your dentist. 

If you’re experiencing any gum pain, it’s important to call and schedule an appointment with your dentist in Wicker Park. The pain may be minor and nothing that requires treatment, however, it’s better to get it checked out so that any potential problems are caught early and treatment can begin before the problem gets bigger. 

Migraines & Dentistry

migraine manAn estimated 39 million Americans suffer from headaches or migraines regularly. That’s about 12% of our population that experience these often debilitating, painful, and difficult-to-treat neurological conditions. However, even though this is such a widespread problem, there’s still the need for more research to determine just what causes a headache or migraine, how to prevent them and treat them, and eventually, how to cure them. That’s why every June, medical professionals, including your dentist in Wicker Park, join together to raise awareness and increase education about headaches and migraines during National Migraine & Headache Awareness Month

How to Differentiate Between a Headache and Migraine

Oftentimes, the terms headache and migraine are used interchangeably. However, they are technically two separate conditions and present themselves with similar, yet different, symptoms. Both conditions involve pain in the head and it can either be a throbbing or dull pain in both. But there are a few differences in other symptoms that can help identify whether you have a headache or a migraine.  

Headache Symptoms

  • Pain is usually spread throughout the head
  • Pain remains consistent and doesn’t tend to worsen with activity
  • Usually has the feeling of constant pressure 
  • Symptoms are localized to only the head

Migraine Symptoms

  • Pain usually affects one side of the head more than the other, but not always
  • Sensitivity to light and noise
  • Blurry vision
  • Nausea
  • Aura symptoms such as blind spots, zig-zag lines, or shimmery, glowy patches

Are Migraines and Headaches Related to Dentistry?

We know that it may seem odd to have your dentist in Wicker Park talk about conditions that seemingly only affect the head, but the truth is, there may be a connection between chronic headaches and migraines and dentistry. After all, the head is connected to the neck which is connected to the jaw, and there are muscle groups connected to each, so it’s certainly worth a closer look. 

Numerous studies have shown a potential correlation between a poor bite as well as habitually grinding or clenching teeth and an increased risk of chronic headaches or migraines. When someone has a poor bite or constantly grinds their teeth together, the muscles in the jaw joint are under constant and abnormal pressure and may cause a painful condition known as TMD (or TMJ). But the pain may not end at the jaw joint alone. As we’ve mentioned earlier, the head, neck, and jaw are all connected through a complex system of muscles, so when pain affects one section, it can also spread to affect other areas, such as the head. The theory researchers are studying regularly is that this constant muscular pressure may just cause certain headaches or migraines. 

We always encourage migraine and headache sufferers to talk with their primary care physician, as well as their dentist in Wicker Park, to see if their pain may be caused, or a least exacerbated by, something related to their oral health. Additionally, there is no concrete cause of migraines or headaches, so intervention from your medical team is necessary to diagnose just what may be causing your individual migraines or headaches in order to determine how to treat them effectively. 

(312)818-2441
Monica Urda, DDS
1755 W North Avenue
Chicago, IL 60622

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