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Headaches, Migraine and our Teeth

Everyone clenches their teeth to some degree, even denture wearers. Some of us just clench, and some grind. In its severest form, this tooth-grinding is called Bruxism.
Bruxists will generally show classic signs in their mouths such as worn or broken teeth, or ridges along the sides of the tongue and cheeks. And a typical symptom is constant headaches or migraines.
The cause of the headaches is linked to the muscles of our jaws. As we grind, these muscles place extra strain on the Trigeminal nerve. And, as it compresses, it sends signals to the brain which can result in mild to severe headaches.
It’s very important to realise that tooth-grinding is only one possible cause of headaches and migraines. Our role, as dentists, is to help determine when that may be the case. In a lot of occasions, we’ll try and work closely with your doctor to find out any other possible causes.
When we can confirm a link between tooth-grinding and headaches, our goal is to limit the amount of strain placed on the Trigeminal nerve. And we do this by trying to reduce the intensity of the grinding.
One of the most common ways in which we do this is by providing bite guards. These hard plastic guards are made to fit over the teeth and they help to spread the forces when we clench. They also help to protect any teeth which may have become weakened through wear.
But, in some cases, if the grinding is severe, a conventional bite guard may not be enough to reduce or relieve the symptoms of headaches. Instead, a very simple and non-invasive technique is to add small tooth-coloured fillings to some of the teeth closer to the front of the mouth. We can’t clench as hard with our front teeth. Try it yourself by biting on a pencil. First with your back teeth and then with your front teeth. Notice the difference? So, when we can’t close with the same force, this reduces the pressure on the Trigeminal nerve and helps to relieve the headaches.
If you suffer from the above, please speak to your dentist about how they can help you.