Healthy Living

“I Can’t Tell if it’s My Jaw or My Head!”


jaw pain senior manMany otherwise healthy people have discovered that it does not take long to feel totally run down when they are suffering from a headache for any period of time. Most of us have experienced this and find ourselves avoiding activities and even becoming depressed and irritable. It has been estimated that over 45 million people in the US suffer from chronic headaches, and last year over 157 million school/work days were lost because of chronic debilitating head and jaw pain. Even though multiple causes of chronic head and jaw pain exist, most of them tend to affect the nerve-equivalent of Grand Central Station; an area of the nervous system called the trigeminal nucleus. This is part of the vast web of nerve tissue that collects most of the sensory input from the head, jaws, teeth, and neck. In other words, whether the source of the pain is vascular, muscular, inflammatory, TMJ/tooth-related, or some other process, much of it is translated to the brain through this area, located just above and in front of your ear.

Over the years many different treatments have been used with varying degrees of success. Many of these temporarily mask the pain, leaving a person feeling frustrated and defeated when it returns. It is very important, instead, to work to get to the root of the problem. Certainly one very common finding is some type of muscle imbalance, such as you would have if there was a stone in your shoe and you continued to walk on it. You can imagine that it would eventually affect your knees, hips, back, neck, and eventually your head. We see these muscle imbalances with people missing teeth or if their teeth don’t fit together very well. These are not unlike injuries to an athlete, which is why some of our treatments were developed in Sports Medicine to speed up healing.

Following a computer-assisted evaluation, in-office Drug-Free treatment involves a personalized program of gentle (laser) light therapy, electrical stimulation, muscle manipulation, and a customized orthotic (bite) device worn inside the mouth. People also follow a specific at-home continuing care program, including exercises to be done at home between treatments. These combined therapies are proven to relieve severe and chronic headache pain by re-training the muscles and nerves connected by the trigeminal nucleus to function properly, thus restoring comfort. For more details about this approach, go to or call our office at 205-933-0323.

Healthy Living Dr Koch Headshotsuit2006J. Paul Koch, D.M.D. 

Koch Aesthetic Dentistry

2311 Highland Ave., Suite 323, 35205




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