M.J. Plebon, Montreal online marketing and lead development specialist speaks with Dr. Karim El-Samra, owner of D-Dental Clinic in Dollard-des-Ormeaux in Montreal on the topic of migraine headaches, potential causes, solutions and how a properly trained dentist may be able to provide migraine pain relief.
M.J. Plebon: When people suffer from migraines they often see a doctor as their first step in attempting to find a remedy for their pain. The visit to the GP can result in prescribed medicine as a possible solution. You suggest there are other paths to treating migraines. Can you tell us a little more about this?
Dr. Karim El-Samra: Yes of course. It is always a good idea to first consult a trusted doctor. Usually they will find that if it is a real migraine, the doctor will suggest prescription medication. However studies have shown that over 70% of migraines are related to occlusal issues which is the way your teeth fit together. So its important to note that many diseases have multiple causes. It is important to address all the possible known causes whether it is migraines or any other disease.
What we offer here is a solution to the occlusal problem. So if the migraine is a result of your bite, we can examine it, detect any problems with it and offer solutions tailored to the person’s situation.
M.J. Plebon: Are all dentists qualified to assess a person’s bite and jaw joints to determine if it is the root cause of migraine headaches?
Dr. Karim El-Samra: No unfortunately not. Each dentist has their own way of practicing. They have also gone through their own paths with respect to continuing education and certifications. It would be important to seek out and find a dentist who is certified in occlusion and TMJ specifically. Occlusion and jaw joint treatments are highly specialized and not all dentists are proficient in this type of treatment.
M.J. Plebon: When someone calls for an appointment regarding migraine headaches, what is involved during the appointment with the dentist?
Dr. Karim El-Samra: As with any new patient we always conduct a complete oral examination, which, in our office, not only includes a dental exam, but a periodontal exam, where we examine your gums and the bone around your teeth. We also examine the soft tissue structures. In addition, we do a preliminary jaw joint and bite exam. We can detect minor or major issues with the patient’s bite and jaw joints during this initial visit.
M.J. Plebon: How long is the initial visit?
Dr. Karim El-Samra: The initial visit is around an hour. It could be more or sometimes less depending on what needs to be discussed with the patient and how many questions they may have. We often have to see the patient again a second time as a follow-up visit if they have other questions they need answered.
M.J. Plebon: If you determine the bite is a cause of the ongoing migraine headaches, what ongoing treatment is required or recommended once it has been determined that the patient has issues with their jaw?
Dr. Karim El-Samra: It will depend on the patient and the extent of the problem. Each problem has its own solution and can even have several possible solutions. Many of the cases require a very simple treatment which is an equilibrated night guard. Most cases start with this step. It is relatively easy to make. And we make sure that every night guard we create is in harmony with the perfect position of the jaw joint, this is what differentiates an equilibrated night guard from a standard one.
M.J. Plebon: Can you tell us about some success stories you have personally experienced with patients suffering from migraine headaches?
Dr. Karim El-Samra: I remember this one case where this patient was not aware her migraines were associated with her bite. She came in just wanting an evaluation of her smile and aesthetics. Her specific problem needed to be addressed with orthodontics. Now orthodontics help move teeth in to the right position so that not only will we have an aesthetic smile, but also a functional bite.
During the first week that the patient started wearing her appliances to move her teeth into the right place, she noticed that her regular headaches and migraines were completely gone.
Now this is one case and a unique one where the patient experienced immediate improvement with her migraines. I can speak about many other cases where we have made equiliberated night guards for people and they saw their tension headaches disappear. They noticed tension in their ears disappear and sensitivity in their teeth were disappearing. They would wake up in the morning feeling well rested instead of waking up with tension on the side of their head.
This is real bio-mechanics. It is not hocus-pocus. It is scientifically proven that this can help many migraine sufferers with their pain.
M.J. Plebon: Why is this solution relatively unknown to the general public?
Dr. Karim El-Samra: It is a relatively new concept. Science is progressing day by day and at speeds we have not witnessed in the past. Today we have tools that help us see exactly what is going on in the jaw joints like MRI’s for example. We did not have this technology in the past. As the science progresses, we start seeing and understanding more about the bio-mechanical functions of the head and neck and how the teeth are related to that. As a result, new techniques have evolved and with these techniques we are seeing new results. Even though it is a very establish concept and treatment, it is still relatively uncommon. This is why not everyone is aware of it but it is catching on. The Institut Canadien d’Occlusion is based in Montreal by Dr. Alan Aube who is one of the foremost experts in TMJ and occlusion here in Quebec. He is working to spread the word about this, the science and the technique in order to treat this in a predictable and safe way. He has established a very specific protocol to help us treat patients safely and predictably so that we arrive at amazing results.
M.J. Plebon: If someone is suffering from migraines and wants to meet with you, how do they go about it? What is involved?