The survey of 2,000 UK residents was commissioned for a medical interest television program produced by Channel 4 of the BBC, and it also confirmed the relation between teeth grinding and stress as 70 percent of Glaswegian teeth grinders polled confessed to the stress in their lives, mostly over money issues.
Understanding BruxismMany people who grind their teeth at night are unaware that they do so until a spouse or someone else sleeping near them is awakened by grating noise. Teeth grinding is a reaction to stress that can affect anyone, including people who are adept at handling stress on a daily basis. Slight bruxism consists of a simply tightening the jaw; more pronounced clenching is similar to chewing bubble gum uncontrollably.
Chronic bruxism can turn into temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, colloquially known as lockjaw. The location of the each TMJ, near the ear, is the reason why many people who suffer from bruxism will sometimes complain about headaches while rubbing the area near their middle ear. This discomfort can extend to neck pain and stiff muscles in this area, which often requires massage therapy sessions for relief.
Teeth Grinding and Migraine Headaches
Bruxism and lockjaw causes headaches even in non-migraine sufferers due to the tightness created on the masseter and temporalis muscles, which are connected to the fifth cranial nerve. This nerve, which is known as nervus trigeminus, is the main facial nerve and serves as the motor nerve of the mastication process. Migraine researchers have studied the trigeminal nerve and observed how it acts as a migraine trigger when muscle spasm develops as a result of TMJ disorder.
A common and effective way to treat bruxism is by wearing a dental night guard, also known as an occlusal splint. This is a medical device made of latex that is inserted between the upper and lower teeth to keep them separate. Dental night guards must be measured and fitted for the purpose of finding the most comfortable resting angle for the jaw. Bite blocks and mouth guards used for sports can be used in the beginning, but chronic teeth grinding should be treated with properly fitted dental night guards.
Managing and Reducing Stress
It is not uncommon to find patients who suffer from both migraines and bruxism, but it is important to remember that one condition does not cause the other. Stress is the common denominator of these two conditions, which means that working on reducing it will go a long way in bringing relief to patients.
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