Did you know that your tension or stress headache maybe caused by teeth grinding or a maligned bite?
The medical name, Bruxism, is the grinding, gnashing or clenching of your teeth. . This can occur during the day and, more commonly, while you sleep. Many people are completely unaware of this activity, but your dentist can always tell!
Jaw muscles allow us to chew, close, and open our jaws. Every time you swallow, the upper and lower teeth come together to brace your lower jaw against the skull. If the teeth don’t meet properly the muscles can become painful. If the bite is off and you grind your teeth at night it’s a double whammy! Headaches, muscle aches, jaw pain and jaw popping may result. Additionally you may crack teeth and fillings or simply wear your teeth down to nubs.
Signs and Symptoms:
Signs and symptoms of bruxism and a misaligned bite may include:
- Teeth clenching or grinding
- Flattened teeth, chipped, loose or fractured teeth
- Worn enamel
- Tooth sensitivity
- Soreness in your face or jaw
- Tight or tired jaw muscles
- Dull headache in the temples
- Waking up with a headache
A dentist may prescribe an oral, splint appliance (orthotic) made of acrylic to protect the teeth for severe and persistent bruxism. A well adjusted, custom made splint appliance can do much more than an over the counter night guard. It can be constructed in such a way that the harmony is restored between the jaw joints and the bite, thus reducing muscle strain and relieving pressure on the jaw joints.
Sometimes, after a period of splint wear, the bite can be adjusted to ideal. This is called equilibration. Your dentist can make tiny adjustments to teeth and fillings to restore the harmony between the jaw joints and the teeth.
Some headaches can be easily taken care of with the help of a dental professional. It is in the best interest of a headache sufferer to make an appointment with their family dentist, who may be able to diagnose the cause.Once again, harmony can be restored in the mouth and the headaches may disappear!
Peter J. Samuels, DDS is a local Gettysburg dentist and a clinical instructor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry. He is on the clinical faculty at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry and treats TMJ problems. 717-334-0555 GettysburgCosmeticDentist.com