Surviving the Latest “Totally Effective” Migraine Treatment

Last week, my hometown newspaper posted an online article with a headline that boasted a “95% effective” migraine treatment. (I’m not going to go into specifics here, as I don’t want to speak ill of anyone involved with said article.) A loving and caring friend, who knows I both write about migraine and experience chronic attacks, posted the article to my Facebook wall. As I saw the well-meant post, all I could do was sigh.

When we migraineurs see something “new” for migraine, we often feel a number of emotions simultaneously. We feel hope that something new has come on the market that might actually make us better. We feel skepticism, because we have a long list of treatments we’ve tried already that showed few if any results. We also feel pressured – pressured to try this new treatment, regardless of whether we feel it is right for us, and pressured for it to work. After all, as society at large continually asks us, if we “really” wanted to get better, wouldn’t we try anything that purported to help?

It’s this last feeling that motivates me to research the latest treatments.

Before I shell out yet more money and energy on a treatment for my specific kind of migraine, I want to know the scientific basis for the treatment. I want to read the studies that show who and under what conditions the treatment helps. I want to see how the studies are designed and how they were carried out. After all, that’s the best way to decide whether or not it’s really worth a try.

Considering that 1) one of the trigeminal nerve’s three branches runs along the jaw bone and 2) research has shown that activation of the nerve system at any of the branches has the potential to trigger a migraine, it’s no surprise that migraine and dental issues can be related in some people. Overnight jaw clenching, for example, aggravates the trigeminal nerve system and can be a major trigger for migraines, according to Dr. Boyd, who invented the NTI (nociceptive trigeminal inhibition) device to help patients with such problems.

Dr. Boyd’s devices are relatively simple. They’re basically mouth guards/splints that keep the patient from clenching the jaw and/or grinding the teeth overnight. By reducing the level of clenching and grinding, the devices help reduce the over-activity of the trigeminal nerve, thereby reducing migraine pain and/or migraine frequency for those patients who suffer TMJ-related migraines. (There are some unique aspects to the design of Dr. Boyd’s devices, which may contribute to their effectiveness. Additional information about the devices can be found on his website.)

Several people here at Migraine.com use the devices for tension headaches and TMG-triggered migraines, and love them. However, the devices do not provide relief for all patients, nor do they stop all migraines in the patients who do benefit from them. Thankfully, Dr. Boyd’s research doesn’t claim they do.

The article in my hometown newspaper, however, said that the “new” dental treatment in question – TruDenta – offers a 95% effective rate for migraine treatment. Knowing, as I do, that nothing we’ve found so far helps 95% of migraineurs, I was immediately skeptical.

After reviewing the dentist’s website and the TruDenta website, I was unable to find any basis for the 95% claim. I can’t even really tell you what TruDenta is or what it does, though it appears to involve a computer that runs data analyses of patients’ teeth, jaws, and bites, and then offers guidance on how to treat malformations and/or mal-adjustments. It seems to require a lot of office visits – about 12 in some cases – and can cost up to $5,000.

After looking into this, it’s unlikely that I’ll try the TruDenta system, though I hope other people who wish to try it get good results. If you do try it, please let us know how it works for you in the comments below. And, if you’ve tried Dr. Boyd’s NTI devices, please let us know that as well. I’ve been clenching my jaw at night recently, and I just may have to take a look at those myself.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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