Monthly Archives: August 2018

See a Dentist if You Wake Up Tired with a Headache

I’d gone to my doctor because I keep waking up with horrible migraines. Plus, no matter how much sleep I get I always wake up exhausted. Always. Doc indicated I might want to see a dentist, though he did start me on Topomax for the migraines. I don’t want you to be offended but I’m not sure how my teeth have anything to do with this. I will see a dentist if it’s warranted. I just want to be certain it is.


Dear Lindsey,

Diagram of neuromuscular dentistry

I’m not offended at all. I can understand you want to be certain you’re seeing the correct caregiver. There are in fact TWO dental conditions which could be contributing to what you’re going through—TMJ Disorder and Sleep Apnea.

Reasons Your Doctor Might Send You to a Dentist

Local doctors will sometimes send a patient to a dentist saying they can’t find anything wrong but the patient truly isn’t feeling well. With x-rays, it turns out they had a dental infection building. A simple root canal treatment and they instantly felt relief. Medical doctors aren’t trained to look into dental issues, so they’ll often overlook those. A wise doctor will have you see one when they can’t figure anything out on their end.

You’re not complaining of general discomfort, so we’ll look at your specific issues.

You’ve mentioned regular migraines. There are many medical causes for these horrific “headaches” and some causes we don’t even know yet. But, there is a dental issue too—TMJ Disorder. This is when the temporomandibular jaw joint is irritated. It can cause mild to severe pain. You can wake up with migraines and even get lock-jaw. There are many causes of TMJ, including a misaligned bite, and treatment will vary on the reason. Take a look at Dr. Potts’ TMJ Disorder page. If you have any of the other symptoms, you may want to see a dentist who treats TMJ.

A second, very specific, complaint you mentioned is waking up tired even with a full night of sleep. This is a classic symptom of sleep apnea. It’s possible the muscles in the back of your throat relax while you’re sleeping. This can cut off your air passage. Your body stops breathing and jolts you awake to open up the passage, clearing the airway for your breathing again. This can happen hundreds of times a night without you even realizing it. If you have sleep apnea, it’s no wonder you’re tired in the mornings. Again, you’d need to see a dentist who treats sleep apnea. Often, a simple custom fitted orthotic device solves this issue.

This blog is brought to you by Libertyville, IL Dentist Dr. David Potts.

Can a Sedation Dentist Help When I Don’t Go Numb?

I had a tooth cause me a great deal of pain. I’m not the best at going to the dentist but this did force me to go in. In a way, I’m glad I did because I found out that not only is that tooth massively infected, but I have two other teeth with decay. I need to repair those before they become infected too. The dentist offered to do it right then because I was his last patient and the infection was so bad. I realize that was incredible of him, but for some reason, he couldn’t get me numb. He did 11 shots. Yes, you read that right. 11 shots. He suggested I see a sedation dentist. He wasn’t certified and said I’d be better off with someone who was. But, what I’m wondering is if going to a sedation dentist will do any good at all if Novocain doesn’t help?


Dear Jamie,

A woman lsleeping in a dental chair from dental sedation
First, I have to say you have an amazing dentist. He puts your well-being above both his personal time and his profits. So many times we receive questions from people who’ve had disastrous dentists. It’s refreshing to have a question from someone with a terrific caregiver.

Your dentist is right that a sedation dentist is your solution. It’s often the case where people with severe dental anxiety, such as yours, are unable to get numb. The reason for that is the anxiety increases your metabolism. An increased metabolism burns off the numbing medication.

You’ll need a strong type of dental sedation, like oral conscious sedation. You simply take a pill. That’s super simple. The pill completely relaxes you. In fact, it will relax you so much that you’ll need someone to drive you to and from your appointment. You’ll be too loopy to drive. That’s to your benefit. You’ll be so relaxed you won’t be anxious. This will allow the Novocain to do its job. Most patients end up sleeping through their appointments.

Your dentist is also right that you’ll want someone who is certified. This is for your safety. Look for a dentist with DOCS Certification (Dental Organization for Conscious Sedation).

Why Dental Sedation is Important for you Right Now

This infection is serious. It will spread. If you think about how close your jaw is to your heart and brain you can see why, even in 2018, people still die from tooth infections. These type of infections are different than other types. You cannot simply take an antibiotic and be done. The dentist does have to physically remove the infected pulp.

Another benefit to you is you’ll be able to get more work done in one sitting. That means you can get to those other teeth suffering from decay and have them filled in the same appointment you get rid of your infection. While the infected tooth will need a root canal treatment and dental crown. The other teeth will only need simple fillings as long as you get to them soon.

Dental sedation will change the way you view your dental care. You’ll be able to get regular checkups done without the anxiety you’ve normally been faced with. Preventative care saves you a ton of money and trauma, because it either prevents problems altogether or catches them so early you only need minimal, non-invasive treatments.

This blog is brought to you by Libertyville Dentist Dr. David Potts.