Millions of Canadians suffer from migraines. According to Statistics Canada, an estimated 8.3% of Canadians (2.7 million) reported that they had been diagnosed with migraines.
Migraine can be awfully debilitating and can last a few hours to several days. Often, migraine episodes are accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. Migraines are now recognized as a major cause of disability and have cost pain sufferers their quality of life.
Did you know that Dr. Westersund himself suffered from migraines in silence, not knowing then that his profession was his saving grace? Back in the day, he was told it was all in his head! (DUH!) ?? We’re not surprised that one of his missions now is to help those suffering from chronic, debilitating migraines find treatment. ?? Tag someone who doesn’t know much about migraines. Or share this photo to help spread the word that a migraine is considered a disability and an illness that shouldn’t be dismissed! #MigraineAwarenessMonth
In many cases, an unexpected cause of migraines is a structural imbalance in the jaw joints, also known temporomandibular disorder or TMJ disorder for short.
As a Calgary dentist who’s clinic’s mandate is to help people with TMJ disorder heal, I often meet patients that come to my office with migraines because it is a major symptom of TMJ disorder.
Because of the research they have already done, they’re often surprised to hear when I say that I don’t use Botox to treat migraines.
Back in 2011, the Canadian government approved the use of Botox to treat migraines. But why would I choose to avoid using a migraine treatment approved by the government?
I hope this article will help clarify why it is a physiological approach or treating the root cause of migraines, will lead to less reliance on medication or more Botox injections in the future.
Why doctors and dentists use Botox to treat patients with migraines
According to the World Health Organization, migraines are “more debilitating than blindness, paraplegia, angina, or rheumatoid arthritis.”
It’s no wonder, then, that people want to find relief. They’re constantly on the lookout for how to cure migraines. This has led researchers to find ways to not only treat migraines but prevent them.
And that’s how Botox came into the picture.
Originally, Botox was a treatment for smoothing out wrinkles. However, doctors found that this treatment had a profound effect on patients with migraines. Botox affects the nerves of the head, and migraines respond because they are a neurological disorder.
How does this form of treatment work? A doctor will inject Botox approximately every 12 weeks. The doctor or dentist places thirty-one injections in seven strategic areas of the head and neck. The whole process takes about 15 minutes.
Treating the Symptoms: Why I don’t use botox to treat migraines
Using Botox to treat migraines is like trying to put a Band-Aid on an infected wound.
I also had Botox in my jaw muscle to relieve tension from constantly clinching. I was not like this before. Pay my bill, POS POTUS
— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) May 4, 2017
Using Botox to treat migraines is like trying to put a Band-Aid on an infected wound (sorry, Chrissy).
It doesn’t treat the underlying cause. And when you don’t treat the real cause it can end up getting worse. Just like that wound – if you don’t treat the infection, you end up worse off than when you started.
“Treating the symptoms instead of the cause is like taking the batteries out of the smoke detector instead of trying to find the fire.”
If we focus our efforts on the true cause of the problem, patients need less treatment in the long run. But with Botox, patients often need higher doses as time goes on.
Curing migraines: 3 dental options to try over Botox
I like to treat migraines from a physiological and neuromuscular angle. There are three ways that we can treat migraines this way in my Calgary dentist office.
1. Why some people need orthodontic treatment
Orthodontic treatment, or braces, corrects a misaligned bite. Crooked teeth and a misaligned bite (crossbite, overbite, etc.) strain the jaw joint and contribute to migraines. When we correct the bite, we relieve the pressure and the compensation, resulting in fewer to no migraines.
2. Restorative treatments can help with migraines
Sometimes, existing fillings and crowns, as well as the teeth, can wear down or shift. This causes misalignment, too. We can replace the restorations to balance the bite.
3. The most popular choice among my patients: orthotic appliances
Most of my patients prefer this option. An orthotic appliance is something that’s worn over the teeth. It simulates an ideal bite and reduces pressure or stress on the jaw joint.
How often is the appliance worn? That depends on your needs. Some people have to wear it 24/7 for a few months, giving their jaw a chance to heal. Others just need to wear theirs every night. If you need an orthotic, we’d determine what works best for you based on your anatomy, symptoms, and level of pain.
Find an option that works for you
As a former migraine suffer that have experienced TMJ disorder himself, I can assure you that I want to help my patients who suffer from migraines find relief. But that doesn’t mean that I’m going to treat my patients with every fad that comes along.
My goal – and that of my entire team – is to provide you with the the healthiest option for you. Not just a Band-Aid solution.
Health care providers should always try to find the cause of the problems, not just treat your symptoms. When we treat the cause of your pain, we’re more likely to prevent more pain down the road. Additionally, certain TMJ treatments have even been able to eliminate some symptoms completely.
Doesn’t that sound like a better option than getting Botox injections year after year?
Do you suffer from migraines? We can help! Learn more about TMJ disorder and our migraine treatment process. Or simply email us to ask how my team and I can help you find migraine relief.