Miserden | Gloucestershire | GL6 7JA

Headaches and jaw-clenching

Say goodbye to headaches

In dentistry, peaceful function of the masticatory musculature depends on a harmonious relationship between occlusion (the way our upper and lower teeth get come into contact with each other) and the TMJs (jaw joints). There will always be some price to pay when any part of the masticatory system is ‘at war’ with muscles (including lips, tongue and cheek musculature). As a result, damage in teeth, internal derangement in the jaw joints and musculature pain (including headaches) can occur.

Occlusal design is meant to address all of the above issues and in this way plays the role of prerequisite for ‘predictable smile design’. At the Implant & Ceramic Dental Studios in Miserden, we believe that ‘perfected’ tooth contact – in the way the masticatory muscles would like to function – makes someone’s smile stand out for all the right reasons.

As the late, great American writer and self-improvement guru Dale Carnegie said, “The smile is one of the most important methods of influencing people.”


Do you recognise any of the following symptoms?

  • Headaches
  • Jaw-clenching
  • Teeth-grinding
  • Discomfort or clicking when chewing
  • Migraines
  • Related tension and stress in the neck and body from any of the above?


Only 5% of UK dentists acknowledge these symptoms as a condition of bruxism or temporomandibular disorder (TMD). The way your upper and lower teeth touch and close is known as your ‘teeth bonding bite’. If your jaw and teeth are not in alignment, pain, discomfort and damage to the teeth are caused as well as any of the symptoms above.

In simple terms, this may be relieved with a very non-invasive method. The treatment can be as little as 20 minutes of minor trimming with no cause for sensitivity; the next stage is a small bespoke ‘bite raiser’, which is a removable acrylic placement worn over a period of weeks and easy to get used to. Both treatments can be extremely beneficial and in some cases produce life-changing results.

Call for a complimentary consultation with TJ or one of our treatment co-ordinators – 01285 821 220


Patient testimonial

“The team at ICDS literally changed my life, after enduring over 20 years of severe headaches, doctors, pharmaceuticals, therapists and serious operations. I was literally emotionally worn down. I cannot thank TJ enough for recognising my symptoms for what they were. I live a pain-free life and have an amazing smile” – Marilyn Gough, 2015

TJ explains that having the best people surrounding him at ICDS is the key to the practice’s success. In particular, Dr Vasile Pana has a passion for occlusion, helping patients to wave goodbye to the headaches that in some cases they’ve endured for years. TJ says: “Dr Vasile Pana has exceptional knowledge in this field and is such a great asset to our patients. His diligence and diagnostic processing are impeccable, and we feel privileged to have a clinician of his calibre at ICDS. The benefit to our patients’ health and well-being is remarkable. Even with cosmetic dentistry, the quality and care and longevity of treatment will be enhanced with Dr Pana’s pre-treatment analysis.

“It’s amazing how many people accept tension in their jaw and temples as the norm. Dr Pana can treat with simple and precision techniques that can remove pain with life-changing results.”

Call to book in for a full diagnostic treatment with Dr Pana.


Bruxism – grinding or tooth-clenching

Bruxism can create temple headaches, migraines, limited jaw movement, joint disorder, jaw pain, mouth pain, loose teeth and teeth sensitivity, and can radiate lower into the neck and shoulders. Even seemingly unrelated conditions like sinus inflammation can result indirectly from ‘trigger point’ compression of facial nerves affected by bruxism, a common issue that affects up to 80% of the population. Most common in adults over 25-years-old, the cause is not fully understood, though symptoms often worsen during stressful periods.

Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) is characterised by a clicking and popping sound when chewing or biting. It is associated with facial pain, headaches or discomfort in the juncture between the jaw and skull, is usually felt and heard inside the ear, and can be caused or exacerbated by bruxism.


The effects of bruxism or TMD

If you recognise any of these symptoms, book an examination and evaluation of your bite with Dr Pana. It is important to address this kind of discomfort as soon as possible, as over time the treatments become more involved. Many people turn to the GP first, but a dentist is often the best way forward. We aim to educate as many patients as we can on the dental aspects of bruxism and TMD as functionality and comfort are so important, and to help avoid unnecessary medical research such as MRI and brain scans in the search for medical reasons.


Short-term effects of bruxism

  • Headaches and migraines
  • Facial myalgia (aching jaw and facial muscles – often diagnosed as atypical facial pain)
  • Earache, tinnitus and sinus pains
  • Stiff neck and shoulders
  • Limited mouth opening
  • Poor sleep quality
  • Sleep disturbance of bed partner due to noise
  • Tooth mobility and tooth wear
  • Fractured tooth cusps and broken fillings
  • Receding and inflamed gums
  • Tongue scalloping


Long-term effects

  • Prolonged untreated migraines
  • Excessive facial muscle tone
  • Temporomandibular joint disorder
  • Clicking or popping jaw joint
  • Tooth wear and tooth loss


Test at home

Take a pencil and place it between your molars or canines. With your hands, feel the temporalis muscle bulge in the temple area. Then transfer the pencil between your incisors and press the temporalis at the same spot on your temples again: do you feel the difference? Studies show that the possible contraction intensity of the temporalis muscle when only the incisors come into contact is reduced by an average of 70%!


Headaches and migraines

Bruxism has many effects on the sufferer, most commonly tooth wear and broken teeth. One of the most debilitating effects of bruxism is headaches, migraines and chronic tension headaches. These symptoms may often go untreated because some doctors or dentists may not consider they are caused by tooth grinding or clenching. Dr Pana can assess the severity of headaches.

During sleep we all do strange things, such as snore, kick our legs and even talk. But one of the most common things we do at some time during our lives is grind our teeth. For lots of people, this goes unrecognised. Some people may notice their teeth are wearing down or breaking, but for the unlucky ones, they suffer with headaches and migraines.

Did you ever wonder what these symptoms have in common? They all are controlled and/or moderated by the trigeminal nerve system. When the muscles start making your jaw clench and you grind your teeth, the trigeminal nerve system gets bombarded with signals. If the system is compromised, it is unable to handle the signals and they are misinterpreted. This results in a noxious stimulus to the fluid surrounding the brain, resulting in a pounding headache or a migraine.

We now know that many symptoms can be related to this noxious input; our understanding of the trigeminal nerve, and how the symptoms relate to a migraine sufferer, has become much clearer.

The trigeminal nerve has two divisions:

  1. Motor root, which sends nerve impulses to the jaw muscles to make them contract.
  2. The much larger sensory division (made up of the nerves that bring in information from the periphery). Sensory division is divided into three distinct segments of sensory reception (thus the term trigeminal):
  • First division – ophthalmic – receives sensory input from arteries that surround the brain to around and behind the eyes.
  • Second division – maxillary – receives sensory input from below the eyes to the upper jaw.
  • Third division – mandibular – receives sensory input for the entire lower jaw.

All three divisions feed into the trigeminal sensory nucleus.

The current understanding of the nature of a migraine is that it results from a disorder of ‘sensory modulation’, meaning that information received by the sensory nucleus is misinterpreted, thereby resulting in either a disproportionate response or an inappropriate response altogether. For example, during a migraine attack, the simple pressure changes of the fluid that surrounds the brain (resulting from the beating of the heart) are perceived as ‘pounding’.

The therapeutic goal of migraine prevention is to limit the amount of noxious sensory input (that is, to limit your migraine ‘triggers’) to the trigeminal sensory nucleus. The way we can do this is by reducing the intensity of tooth-grinding and clenching, thereby reducing the number of signals being sent back to the trigeminal nerve system.


Tooth wear and broken teeth

Your teeth should last you a lifetime and not wear down. However, bruxism is a destructive condition. Normal chewing and eating does not cause wear or damage to your teeth. If you suffer from bruxism, you are putting your teeth and gums under massive amounts of pressure. During sleep, there is no feedback mechanism to tell your brain that your teeth are hurting because of too much pressure, hence we can put up to 40 times the amount of pressure on our teeth while we sleep – it is no surprise to see a lot of damage.

The most common sign of bruxism is shortened front teeth (incisal wear). However, in more severe cases we see signs of cracks in enamel, abfractions (enamel loss at gum level), gum recession, bone overgrowths (bony exostosis), broken cusps of molar teeth, and damage to restorations (crowns and bridges).

The answer to your pain problems? Come see us at ICDS.


CALL TODAY to book your complimentary consultation
01285 821220

Book your complimentary
consultation today

Call for a complimentary consultation with TJ or one of our treatment
coordinators – 01285 821 220