I admit it, I wore braces for over two years, from July of 2012 to December 2014. I still wear my retainer most of the day now. You might think, wow what a vain woman to wear braces at almost 50 years old! Well, first you have to hear my story and then you’ll understand.
It all started about 10 years ago, I was washing my face one night before bed and I felt this strange tingling on the right side, around my eye. It was the weirdest sensation, like the tingling you get when a limb that fell asleep is waking up. It kept doing that every time I touched it. It didn’t really hurt (at the time) but it felt so odd. I didn’t really think anything of it, but I noticed over the next few months that it kept coming back from time to time and felt about the same.
Over the next year, it got worse and worse. The pain felt like zapping and prickling, what I would imagine it would feel like if you stuck your fingers in an electrical outlet. And it HURT! Anything would start up the pain, from the wind blowing on my face, to smiling, laughing, and even eating would cause this unimaginable pain. Sometimes it would come upon me while I was talking and it would literally render me speechless. I would have to stop and wait until the pain passed to finish speaking. I didn’t know when it would happen either, there seemed to be no pattern to it, sometimes I could eat and not have pain and then the next meal it would be so excruciating that I couldn’t even eat. I would go months without experiencing it, and then out of nowhere it would come roaring back to life. It was a hellish nightmare and I endured it for a while before going to my doctor about it.
I went to my long time doctor and he told me I had Trigeminal Neuralgia. It’s like a migraine that has gone rogue, attacking the trigeminal nerve that runs all over your face and forehead. This is sort of a complication from the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome I’ve suffered from for the last 18 years. It’s considered one of the most painful conditions you can suffer from because of the extreme zapping, tingling sensations you experience. I can definitely say that is true!
This condition really flared up in January of 2011 and I had to leave my teaching job because the pain was unimaginable. I could not speak, eat, even move my head. I went back to the doctor. We had some strategies for treating it that definitely helped, which included special pain cream, drops, and a nasal spray which have improved my ability to manage the pain once it begins, and nutritional IV’s to help build up my adrenal and immune systems. We also do a special type of injection called neural therapy which is a focused pain treatment, along with Botox to freeze the nerves in my forehead. All of these strategies got me to 90% of my pre Trigeminal Neuralgia self over a course of a year, which was a definite relief. It would flare up but the pain was lesser and the flare ups fewer in number.
My doctor also suggested I go to a dentist with a more holistic approach to dentistry, Dr. Gary Walton, in Indianapolis. I didn’t understand then how a dentist could help my head, but I agreed to give it a try. When I saw him and told him my story, to my relief he said he could help me with a three step approach. First, he removed all of the mercury fillings in my mouth that were leaking poison into my body, and replaced them with a composite material that is non toxic. I went straight to my doctor after that for chelation therapy, which is an IV to remove metals from the body.
The next step was to get braces. He really had to talk me into this one. I had never worn braces in my life and couldn’t imagine wearing them at 46 years old. I said the only way I would do it was to wear the clear braces, called Clear Correct or Invisiline. He said the braces would properly align my jaw and bite, which were so crooked and not at all in alignment, and that would put less pressure on the trigeminal nerve which would cure my Trigeminal Neuralgia.
The takeaway from all of this is that not only did it cure my Trigeminal Neuralgia, but braces are now an acceptable treatment for migraine headaches. The improper alignment of the jaw and teeth, and TMJ or temporomandibular joint syndrome are a common cause of migraines. Here’s why, if the cranial bones are distorted for any reason, like misalignment of the teeth and jaw, then changes in pressure from weather fronts, ascending and descending in an airplane, hormonal changes, etc can trigger the migraine pain, along with nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.
So that’s why I wore braces for over two years and I’m happy to say that I haven’t had a Trigeminal Neuralgia flare up since I got about a year into wearing braces. It’s no less than a miracle to me. The reason I’m writing this though, is that even if you’ve worn braces when you were younger, you could still have misalignment of your jaw and teeth. If you’re experiencing migraines it would be a great idea to find a dentist who is knowledgeable about these kind of issues, and have your mouth evaluated. It’s been life changing for me. The third part of the three steps for me included wearing a mouth guard at night to prevent grinding of the teeth, which can also cause the bite and jaw to be knocked out of whack. Since I’m wearing a retainer at night for the braces, it also serves as a bite guard as well.
Another positive outcome is that my teeth are so nice and straight. I never noticed how crooked they were. My dentist said, “You always had a pretty smile, but now your teeth make your smile even prettier.” That’s so sweet! I find that I smile more now because I love my teeth. I also smile more because I know that smile will not cause a horrible zap of pain to run up my face anymore. It’s been a blessing for me, and I’m so glad I did it even though I was very apprehensive about it. It cost around $4,000, which is not cheap believe me, but it was money very well spent in terms of my health. I was a fairly advanced case because my teeth and jaw were so out of alignment, and I know of people who have worn them for more mild corrections that have cost a lot less. Now when you see me smile, know that there is no pain hiding behind that smile anymore. If you don’t have head pain, consider yourself very blessed because the pain is so debilitating, and if you do, consider visiting the dentist to talk about teeth and jaw alignment. It will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie!