January 18, 2020

Teeth Grinding Can Cause Migraine Headaches!

When you go to the dentist, does he or she suggest that some of your dental problems may be attributed to teeth grinding? For me, this has been the case over the years, but I have conveniently managed to ignore my dentist when it comes to this issue; I simply cannot stand the idea of wearing one of those mouth guards. However, if you are stubborn like me but suffer from migraine headaches, you may want to re-think your stubbornness. I recently read an article by Dr. Lee Sheldon regarding the link between teeth grinding and the development of migraines, and this article makes a compelling argument that says teeth grinding can lead to migraines.

The article talks about how migraines occur when blood vessels in the head become engorged and press down on the trigeminal nerve, which is responsible for pain behind the eyes and on the side of the head. This compression of the nerve produces the intense pain often associated with a migraine. This nerve, however, also has another function in which it controls the temporalis muscle and other muscles in the lower jaw. The temporalis muscle is located between your eye and ear, and when you clench your teeth, you can feel it bulge. Dr. Sheldon notes that when this particular muscle is strained, the trigeminal nerve begins firing. He goes on to point out that most people grind or clench their teeth in five second intervals during the night and it usually goes unnoticed. That is, until a migraine occurs. Dr. Sheldon cautions that the continuous grinding makes the nerve fire over and over, which in turn engorges the blood vessels, and finally, a migraine develops. Additionally, approximately forty-eight percent of migraines begin to occur between four and nine in the morning, just after a night full of teeth grinding.

Dr. Sheldon admits that most people do not think that they grind their teeth, and therefore, have no idea why migraines begin to develop. He advises people to take a good look at their teeth and if they are flat or the edges are jagged, it can usually be attributed to grinding. So, what can you do? As I mentioned earlier, most dentists and neurologists recommend wearing a dental appliance that can reduce the clenching and grinding, thereby reducing the excessive muscle and nerve tension leading to migraines. These appliances have been shown to reduce the severity and frequency of migraines. As much as it may pain you to have to get fitted for one of these mouth guards (I know I wouldn’t want to do it) the migraine pain probably far outweighs your painful pride!