Headaches and Grinding

headaches-grindingDo you suffer from migraines or tension headaches? If so, have you mentioned it to your dentist?

You may not realise this but a lot of head and neck pain can be attributed to problems with the teeth and jaw joints. The jaw joint is called the TMJ (Temporo-mandibular Joint). Problems with the TMJ are termed TMD (Temporo-mandibular Dysfunction/Disorder).

It is estimated that around 70% of the population suffer from this at some point. The most common symptoms are:

  • Headaches or migraines
  • Clicking of the jaw on opening and closing
  • Toothache or sensitivity with no obvious cause
  • Broken and worn teeth or fillings
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Back pain
  • Ringing in the ears (Tinnitus)
  • Limited opening of the mouth
  • Sinus pain, often recurring and mistaken for sinusitis
  • Poor quality sleep, with tight facial muscles in the morning

One of the main causes of TMD is clenching and grinding of the teeth (Bruxism). A large proportion of the population clench or grind their teeth, and as this occurs mostly in their sleep, most people are unaware of it. There is a close relationship between the jaw, teeth, muscles of the head and neck and posture, so a problem in any one of these areas may affect the others.

Some of the muscles which are involved in the movement of the jaw are located around the temple. If the bite (occlusion) is not correct it can cause the muscles to work harder and hence cause fatigue. This then leads to muscle tension and headaches, which affect the temple, and forehead regions. Some headaches can even feel as if they are originating from the eyes. Symptoms can be so varied that most people do not associate their pain as being related to their jaws or bite.

Treatment Options

Discuss your symptoms with your dentist and if TMD is suspected he or she may be able to make you a soft or hard splint. A soft splint is used as a short term measure and a hard splint is a longer term solution. A hard splint is an appliance which needs to be fitted accurately, so when you bite onto the splint the teeth all meet evenly and keep the muscles in a relaxed position.

The splint is usually worn at night but can be worn at anytime depending on the clenching and grinding habit.

At Wycombe Dental Centre we have made a number of splints for our patients and they have benefited greatly with a reduction and or elimination of their symptoms. If your dentist is not in a position to make a splint, you can be referred to us for a consultation and splint treatment. At the consultation we will take a history of your symptoms and then examine your jaw joints, facial muscles and look at the teeth for signs of wear, this will indicate if splint therapy would be suitable for you.

If you have any questions or would like further information regarding splint therapy, contact us on 01494 442922 or email info@wycombe-dental.co.uk