What’s the Difference Between Migraines and Headaches?

young woman suffering from migraineTo many people, a headache is a headache. To those who experience them frequently, headaches can take on a variety of forms, from minor to debilitating, and are occasionally described as migraines. Though sometimes used interchangeably, headaches and migraines differ in their frequency, severity, cause, and pattern of symptoms. Knowing the difference can help you find more permanent relief by addressing the underlying cause of your chronic discomfort, which often originates with one or more dental health issues.

Defining Migraines and Their Symptoms

Headaches are typically categorized by their cause, which can determine where, how frequently, and to what degree the headaches occur. Migraines refer to recurring, debilitating headaches that usually affect one side of the head, and can accompany a list of other symptoms, as well. Hormonal changes, genetics, excessive stress, and other factors can contribute to aggressive migraines, though experts aren’t certain what exactly causes the condition. The excruciating discomfort of some migraines can last for hours, sometimes days, and may include;

  • Blinding flashes of lights, or blind spots in your vision
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness and disorientation
  • Extreme sensitivity to light and sound
  • Tingling pins and needles in the arms, legs, and extremities

What Causes Dental Migraines?

Like toothaches, headaches can often be a symptom of a dental health issue, such as habitual teeth-grinding (bruxism) or TMJ disorder. Grinding your teeth creates an intolerable amount of pressure for your jaw’s joints and muscles. Aside from wearing down and destroying your tooth structure, bruxism can exhaust your jaw’s joints, leading to TMJ disorder. A jaw dysfunction can disturb the nerve in your jaw, known as the trigeminal nerve, that’s also the largest of your 12 cranial nerve groups. Bruxism and TMJ disorder are among the most common dental issues that claim chronic migraines as frequent symptoms, though severe tooth infections and other dental issues can also contribute to extreme headaches. If you suffer from migraines and have been unable to find a cause or cure, then speak with Dr. Stewart about the possibility of TMJ disorder, and how you can find an appropriate course of treatment.

About Your Livonia Dentist:

As a highly experienced general and restorative dentist, Dr. Stewart is dedicated to helping all of our patients enjoy the benefits of a healthy, beautiful smile. James Steward, DDS, and our compassionate staff proudly serve patients of all ages from Livonia, Farmington Hills, Plymouth, Northville, Dearborn Heights, Garden City, and all surrounding communities. To schedule an appointment, call our office today at (734) 425-4400.