The most common way of dealing with headaches is to pop a pill and keep going. But, that leaves the underlying cause unknown and unaddressed. In most cases it is stress or too long time in front of the computer. But, sometimes it is something physical that we can fix. One of the common conditions that cause debilitating headache is teeth grinding or bruxism. Scientists believe that more people have bruxism-related headaches than it is now believed. The reason is simply that they are not aware that they are grinding their teeth.
Teeth grinding is common and in most cases benign condition. Most of us grind our teeth in our sleep occasionally without any consequences, except the complaints of our sleeping partner. But, one in ten Americans suffer from the condition called bruxism, prolonged teeth grinding and clenching that can have serious consequences, such as severe headache, earache, pain in the jaw or cracked and worn out teeth.
Common causes of bruxism are stress or dental problem such as misaligned teeth. Once you are diagnosed with bruxism, get a good mouth guard designed for bruxism (sport mouth guard is designed differently) to prevent more damage. Your dentist can fix your dental problem, and you can look for some effective stress-relief exercises or you can get out of a stressful situation if you can.
How teeth grinding causes a headache?
Prolonged teeth grinding and clenching causes a contraction of the temporalis muscle, a large muscle at the side of your head, in front of the ear. We use it for chewing, together with another muscle called masseter. Masseter controls lower jaw so you can open and close your mouth. When not chewing food, temporalis muscle should be relaxed and teeth should not be in touch. But, bruxism forces this muscle to work when it is not needed for chewing, causing tension headache that is similar to migraine.
If your sleeping partner accuses you of grinding your teeth, don”t ignore it. It might be the reason for your frequent headaches and poor sleep. See your dentist as soon as you can. It could be that a simple visit to the orthodontist can fix both your teeth, your sleep and your headache.