Lowell Weiner DDS
Do you ever wake up with a headache, or get one by the end of the day?
Are they associated with neck pain or do you have a separate neck pain?
Headaches, Neckaches and Sleep Apnea
A new study from the University of Kansas Medical Center has shown that these symptoms are strongly associate with sleep apnea. This is a new association. Non supine sleep provoked by sleep disordered breathing (as with sleep apnea) may play a previously unrecognized role in headache and cervical radiculopathy, or neck problems of the upper spine.
This information comes on top of the body's continued accomodation of postural changes that occur daily- everything that surrounds the throat- all muscles, etc. have to work to keep the throat and airway open. We know that jaw position pays a critical role in Jaw joint or TMJ problems, as it acts like a lever to the cervical spine and thus impacts the throat. This can decrease the space in the throat which can lead to decreased oxygen to the whole body and trigger headaches and sleep apnea. These headaches can occur in the early morning when getting up or throughout the day, and may be treated by well-meaning physicians with drugs- but this does not address the cause of the problem because physicians are not trained in the biomechanics of the jaw. Many times a dentist's treatment of a jaw problem by way of the teeth can improve or contribute to the dysfunction of the jaw, which then acts like dominoes, affecting other areas to create a headache, neck ache or sleep problem. To further compound the problem, every time we swallow, which is over 2000 times a day, the effect is magnified.
The Mouth/Body Connection
This recent study is a powerful reminder that the body is not just the sum of its parts, and why integrative dental medicine is so important. Integrative medical dentists treat the mouth as an integral part of the entire body and use biocompatible dental materials that will not adversely affect a patient's immune system. The emphasis is on building health and well being. If there is disease we will look for the underlying cause that may have its origin in the mouth.
So, if you suffer from headaches, neck or shoulder pain, have someone look to the root cause, especially if it turns out to be sleep apnea, which can be a potentially life threatening condition.
Lowell Weiner D.D.S., F.A.G.D, is a biological dentist at National Integrated Health Associates, a leading integrative medical and dental center serving Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Dr. Weiner's special area of interest is dental issues that affect sleep quality such as sleep apnea, snoring and TMJ.