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An Oral Health Problem Could Be Causing Your Tension Headaches

April 29, 2016
Posted By: Dr. Russell D. Mann
Diagram of facial muscles

More than half of the population suffers from occasional tension headaches. This means that a tension headache may appear less than 15 days per month. They can be described as mild to moderate, and a bit of rest and a pain reliever usually does the trick to treat these minor nuisances.
But for some people, tension headaches become more than just a nuisance. About 3% of the population suffers from chronic daily tension-type headaches. These are pains that appear every day and for up to 90 days in a row and will have a negative effect on their day to day activities. Chronic tension headaches can be so bad that they can be misdiagnosed as migraines.

The exact cause of a tension headache is unknown, but it is often caused by muscle strain in the head and/or neck. An estimated 80% of all headaches are caused by some form of muscle tension. If the pain you suffer from is radiating from your jaw, you may need a dental treatment to relieve these headaches. Here are two scenarios which include the cause and treatment of tension headaches.

A Bad Bite

When your chewing surfaces don’t meet together properly, your muscles have to work harder to chew and they become strained. This is often the case for people with missing teeth or a misaligned jaw. To treat a bad bite your dentist will need to diagnose what’s causing it first. You could need restorative dentistry, dentures, or orthodontic treatment. In some cases the patient may need corrective jaw surgery.


Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is often caused by stress. If you are grinding your teeth at night you are putting a strain on your jaw muscles. Your dentist can prescribe a night guard or dental correction to treat bruxism, but you may need other therapies to keep your jaw muscles from straining at night. You can practice behavior therapy and practicing proper mouth and jaw position, or stress management therapy to promote relaxation, like exercise or meditation.

If you are having chronic headaches, try to pay attention to where the pain is originating from. if it feels like it is coming from your jaw, it’s a good idea to see your dentist. The pain coming from your jaw can radiate to your head and feel like it’s just a headache.

Other things to look out for are:

  • Jaw popping
  • Pain around the ear
  • Jaw soreness when you wake up
  • Pain when chewing
  • Your jaw muscles feeling tired

If you have these symptoms and are suffering from tension headaches, call your Manchester dentist today.

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