Clenching Your Teeth Can be a Real Headache

Do you get constant, chronic headaches? Do you wake up with headaches that ruin your entire day? Have you been told that these headaches are caused by your sinuses or from migraines? Are you tired of taking medication which provides only temporary relief? Did you know that a simple bite appliance provided by your dentist can resolve many of these problems? Read on.

True, you may indeed suffer from sinus headaches or migraines, but did you know that many of these types of headaches are really TENSION headaches. Many people just CALL their headaches migraines for no better term to call them. The reason? The pain is usually in the SAME location on the head, namely the TEMPORAL region (at the side of one's head lateral to the eyes). It's even possible to have both types of headaches at the same time; tension headaches can thus worsen a migraine.

Stress often exhibits itself through the CLENCHING(also known as gnashing) or GRINDING of the teeth (both referred to as parafunctional habits). Children often grind their teeth, but not usually due to stress as to a change in dentition from baby to adult teeth. Adults mostly CLENCH rather than grind their teeth; this is mostly due to STRESS. Just watch O.J. Simpson during his trial; you can see his masseter (jaw) muscles flex constantly. If a person clenches his teeth during the day he frequently does it more at night and usually with much more intensity; in fact he can do it so hard that it can wake him up suddenly during the night and cause the person to wake up in the morning with a headache.

Clenching can contribute not only to headaches, but to PERIODONTAL (GUM) DISEASE. If your dentist tells you that you have periodontal disease, the SEVERITY of the breakdown can often be attributed to these parafunctional habits.

What can be done to resolve this unnecessary pain? IF your pain is properly diagnosed, many dentists make a device called a nightguard. This appliance is useful in many cases, but does not always eliminate the headaches. The main complaint of a nightguard is that it is too big, too thick and very uncomfortable to wear.

A modified ANTERIOR HAWLEY BITE PLANE, however, is much more comfortable and actually induces neuromuscular relaxation. In fact, it is only about one third the size of a nightguard and can barely be seen. It fits behind the upper teeth and is as thin as a wafer. Because it induces muscular relaxation, it will reduce or completely eliminate the pain (headaches) caused by clenching or grinding. A modified Hawley Bite Plane will also help reduce periodontal breakdown by preventing one's teeth from contacting.


Richard Mao, D.M.D.
Practice Limited to Periodontics
E-Mailwith Questions


402 Severn Bldg.
8600 La Salle Rd.
Towson, Md. 21286
Tel:(410) 321-9595
707 N.Hickory Ave.
Bel Air, Md. 21014
Tel:(410) 879-6969