Chronic severe headaches are an affliction that affects one in eight Americans. Most headaches stem from muscle tension. Many tension headaches can be related to your bite and your dentist might be able to help ease that tension and pain.
How teeth are related to chronic headaches
Grinding and clenching are associated with muscle tension and eventual pain. When you grind or clench your teeth, you place extreme forces on your jaw and facial muscles. This may lead to constant headaches. If you wake up with sore muscles, if your jaw clicks or pops, if it is painful to touch your scalp or you have pain behind your eyes, you may have tension headaches that are associated with your bite. We swallow more than 2000 times a day and every time we swallow we use our head and jaw muscles. If your bite is not well aligned, the muscles must work much harder to help you swallow. That constant and repetitive motion puts the muscles in a lot of stress and the result is chronic pain.
Pain and muscle imbalance
The pain may be felt in the jaw joints, the cheeks or any other area of the head. An unstable bite will cause the muscles to tense up, tighten and overwork. This causes muscle spasms which translate into headaches. Our head weighs about 15 pounds. It is held upright with the help of our spine and our jaw, shoulder, neck and head muscles. When any of these muscles tense up they get shorter and start affecting the other muscles involved.
In order to treat chronic headaches, there are several types of treatments available. It may be helpful to receive treatments from a chiropractor, physical therapist or a neurologist, learn methods of relaxation or receive counseling to address emotional stress but if you feel like your bite may be causing your headaches, you should ask your dentist about it. Your dentist will examine your teeth and jaw joints and look for signs and symptoms of muscle strain or tension. Dental treatments may involve bite adjustments and occlusal appliances to help relax the muscles and provide relief from tension.