Headache and Teeth Grinding

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By Marina Ocampo

Many busy moms juggle so many responsibilities and cope with so many tasks that waking up with a headache is never a surprise. So, you pop a pill and keep going. But, headache is not a disease, it is a symptom. Pain killers will take care of the pain, but will not eliminate the cause. Finding a cause is not easy, and it sometimes comes as a real surprise. Your headache might be coming from such an unexpected source as teeth grinding. Scientists believe that most cases of tension headache are caused by teeth grinding or bruxism.

What, you did not know that you grind your teeth?
One in ten Americans is grinding teeth regularly. Many people are not aware that they are doing it, because they do not have any consequences. But, regular and prolonged teeth grinding causes worn out teeth, cracked teeth enamel, pain in the jaw and neck and a migraine-type tension headache. Most people find out that they are grinding their teeth from their sleeping partner, who wakes up with loud grinding noise and start complaining. Others learn about the unpleasant habit from their dentist.
Finding out the cause of your teeth grinding might take some time. In the meantime, you need to protect your teeth from further damage with a good quality mouth guard.
How teeth grinding triggers a headache?
Teeth grinding, teeth clenching or bruxism is an involuntary action in which people forcefully clench their teeth and move them back and forth or from side to side. Some people only clench teeth, without moving them. To press the teeth together, we unconsciously involve temporalis muscles, which are located on the side of the head, in front of the ears. The other muscles that is forced to work overtime because of our bruxism habit are masseters, muscles that keeps control of the lower jaw and open and close our mouth.
Those two muscles are normally engaged only when we chew food. Prolonged and very powerful action that we force upon them with teeth grinding is too much for them, so they react with pain in the jaw, ears, neck and with the tension headache. If not treated, bruxism can cause TMJ, an inflammation of the jaw muscles.
What can you do?
Once your dentist confirms that you are actually grinding your teeth, he can help you find the cause, and try to eliminate it. While some people grind their teeth because of misaligned teeth, most of us are pushed into teeth grinding because of stress and anxiety. Sometimes some medications, especially antidepressants, can trigger teeth grinding. Stimulants like caffeine can also be the triggers. Some chronic diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimers’ disease are often accompanied with teeth grinding.
Try eliminating possible causes by switching to different medication, avoiding stimulants before sleeping and coming up with some stress-relief strategies. If you are lucky, once the stress is gone, so will your teeth grinding.
Sometimes people are not able to eliminate the cause for their teeth grinding and it can seriously affect their teeth and their well-being. Agony of tension headache can make you incapable of functioning. Good mouth guard will provide you with a temporary relief and will protect your teeth.
How to choose the best mouth guard
Commercial one-size-fits-all mouth guards are cheap and available in most local drug stores. Check the thorough review of the most popular mouth guards at http://mouthguardsforteethgrinding.com/to make the best choice. Keep in mind that sports mouth guards are not of any use to you. They are designed to block the frontal impact, the blow to the face and jaw. You need dental mouth guard, which blocks the pressure between upper and lower jaws.
The best mouth guards are custom made, by your dentist, at considerable expense, or by a specialized lab. Labs, such as Night guard lab, will cost you the fraction of the price and the quality will be the same – they are the ones making custom mouth guards for your dentist.
Don’t expect your mouth guard to cure your teeth grinding. It is meant to provide you with the protection and relief until you can find the real cause of your teeth grinding and eliminate it. If your dentist could not find anything wrong with you, talk to your doctor. He might be able to help you with stress relief, or work with you on finding other possible causes.

About this author:

Marina Ocampo is Canadian professional researcher and writer specializing in writing on environment, science, health, nutrition and healthy lifestyle. She has Masters Degree in Environmental Management and Sustainability and she worked in her field on environmental project all over the world. She is now retired, lives on a small island in Honduras and devotes her time to writing and sharing her philosophy of living simply, in harmony with nature. Marina has one son who lives and works in New York and she hopes to be a grandma soon.
Headache and Teeth Grinding
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