Clenching can lead to major setbacks in the battle with headache/migraine pain.
When I say clenching, I am referring to the act of grinding or pressing your teeth together or biting down with great amounts of force. This often occurs with increased stress. Many clench their teeth while they sleep and have no idea they until they visit a professional who can properly diagnose the problem. There is a quick way to tell… look in the mirror at the inside of your cheek. If there is a white line that looks like a callous and seems to outline the teeth, this is a result of clenching.
Clenching can lead to several issues, but one lesser known but still vitally important is headache pain.
The jaw functions with the assist of several different muscle groups, each with a close connection to headache pain. When these muscles are forced to bite and grind with maximum effort they themselves can cause headache type pain and they can also send that tension to the neck, triggering a migraine or tension headache.
The “what to do” becomes more complex when the jaw is involved, but again it all goes back to restoring normal movement. You see, clenching may not be the problem, but rather an improper bite while clenching. This leads to a minor discrepancy in how the teeth contact one another resulting in muscles taking over and tightening down further. If clenching occurs with a normal bite, the tension does not travel. This is part of the reason dentists will provide patients with customized mouth guards to wear during the night to allow a normal bite during clenching.
Once the bite is restored to normal and the neck is moving as expected the patient will experience long term headache relief!