stress is a common cause of recurring headaches. Approximately 40%
of healthy individuals suffer from recurring headaches and one in
eight sufferers have headaches which are severe enough to significantly
affect their ability to carry out normal activities.
stress as a cause of headaches
Around 80% of all headaches occur as a result of muscle tension. Muscles
which are held tight for long periods of time start to ache. When
the muscles become strained or contracted, tension headaches occur.
A common cause of tension headaches is a bad bite. A tension headache
may affect one or both sides of the head or it may surround the head
and feel like a steel band were wrapped around it. The pain of a tension
headache feels like a dull, non-throbbing ache and the pain is often
relieved by aspirin. Signs which indicate that a headache may have
a dental origin include:
- Pain behind
- Sore jaw
- Tired muscles
of the teeth
or popping of the jaw joints
- Head and/or
scalp feels painful to the touch
What is a bad bite and why does this cause muscle
The muscles which control the jaw and allow the head to be held
upright are extremely complex. Every time you swallow - over 2000
times in each 24 hour period - your upper and lower teeth must come
together in a firm way to brace the jaw against the skull. Consequently,
your jaw muscles have to work constantly and never get a rest. If
your bite is unstable, because of poorly aligned or missing teeth,
your muscles have to work even harder to bring your teeth together
and are under constant strain. Overworked muscles which become strained
eventually become painful.
Pain from strained muscles in the jaw may be felt in the cheeks, in
the jaw joints, or may be 'referred' to other areas of the head. Referred
pain is pain which originates in one part of the body, but is felt
in another part of the body.
may become involved and a vicious cycle begins
The head, which is extremely heavy and weighs around 7 kgs (15 pounds),
is delicately balanced on top of the spinal column by the muscles
of the jaw, neck, shoulders and back. If a single jaw, neck or shoulder
muscle becomes shortened as a result of tension, all the other muscles
have to overwork to keep the weight of the head balanced on top of
the spinal column.
Dental headaches originate from an unstable bite which causes the
muscles of the jaw, head, and neck to overwork and become painful.
When the muscle become painful a vicious cycle begins where the pain
causes tension, which leads to worsening muscle spasm which, in turn,
leads to increased pain.
Contact your dentist if you suspect that your headaches might be caused
by a bad bite. He or she will examine your teeth, muscles, and jaw
joints to determine whether dental stress could be the source of the
problem. If that is the case, treatment involves correcting the bite
so that the muscles can function without extra strain and tension.
Sometimes it can be helpful to receive physical therapy in addition
to dental treatment to correct the postural relationship of the head,
neck and shoulders.
Headaches vary in their severity and can have a variety of other causes.
Immediate medical help should be sought for any head pain which is
of an arm or leg
- Loss of vision
- Loss of consciousness
Stewart J. Wright, Holistic Dental
Practitioner, Shore Street Dental Surgery,Cawdor Place, Shore Street, Oban