For many, headaches have just become a part of life, but often a headache is a symptom of something else. Find out what this is and relieve the headaches. Here's why teeth grinding may be the real culprit and how to feel better by treating it.
Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night with your teeth clenched firmly together? That's bruxism. Does a sore jaw greet you each morning? Maybe you've actually broken a tooth in your sleep. That's bruxism.
It's the technical term for "teeth grinding." This involuntary teeth clenching and shifting can wreak havoc on your teeth and the surrounding tissues. Often happening at night, people with untreated bruxism will eventually grind their teeth down and break them with the movement. The jaw becomes sore and eventually misaligned. Pain while eating or talking may result.
Yes, it can cause headaches too!
Nearly 10 percent of people have bruxism. Some studies have shown that as many as 26 percent of 4- to 9-year-old children may have bruxism, with a prevalence of 15 percent among all children. This demonstrates a downward trend as people age.
According to the Mayo Clinic, bruxism often accompanies sleep apnea and other sleep disorders. Sleep apnea is a condition in which you stop breathing for a short time while sleeping. People who snore or wake up gasping for air likely have this condition.
Stress and anxiety often contribute to the behavior. Even while you're asleep, your mind is uneasy. Clenching or grinding results.
Some people experience bruxism symptoms while awake. If you've recently been through a traumatic event, you may clench your teeth when you think about it. Or the actions may be more subtle, occurring throughout the day as you remain in a state of high stress.
Some medications and substances can trigger the behavior. These include:
Several other medical conditions may also contribute to the development of bruxism, including:
Children are nearly three times as likely to start teeth grinding if their parents had this condition. Men and women experience bruxism at similar rates.
The actions involved in a bruxism episode exhaust the body. The muscles, the tendons and the joints all feel overworked. The tension often becomes dull headaches that don't go away.
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a joint at the base of your skull. It connects the skull to the jaw. It has a lot of work to do. You need it for talking, eating and, sometimes, breathing. When you yawn, the joint opens up wide to let the air pass.
The TMJ is surrounded by strong muscles that contract and release to control the jaw. These muscles are connected to the cheeks and under your chin. When someone with bruxism clenches or grinds their teeth, the tension created spreads out and up into the head and neck. The tension becomes a headache as well as sore muscles throughout the face, head, neck and even into the shoulders.
In individuals who have migraine headaches, this dull headache pain may trigger a more severe migraine headache.
Outside of the office, teeth grinders must develop strategies to manage stress, anxiety and anger. This can improve the severity of your symptoms, but by the time many people recognize that there is a problem, the damage has already been done. It's important to get a bruxism evaluation.
The first line of treatment is a custom-fit mouth guard that you wear while sleeping. This helps absorb the pressure that your jaw is putting on the teeth, joints and muscles.
Your dentist can also teach you jaw exercises that help retrain your jaw to move and bite in the correct position. In some cases, your level of bruxism may require surgery to repair damage to teeth or realign the jaw.
Are you getting regular headaches? It may be bruxism. Book online today to get an evaluation.