Anyone who has ever seen an Excedrin commercial knows about tension headaches. And it's true that tension causes most headaches. But where does the tension come from?
Stress is commonly blamed for tension headaches. The fact is that stress is a contributing factor but jaw posture is the main culprit. All the muscles that are tense are the same muscles that work your jaw. Throughout our lives, we don't have much choice about our jaw posture because the way our teeth fit together dictates our jaw posture. Even when your jaw is “resting, " it “rests" near your habitual bite. But what if your bite is posturing your jaw in a position that puts constant tension on the muscles in your head and neck? That's where the tension headaches come from.
What can be done to get rid of the tension headaches-or at least make them less intense and less frequent? A number of specially trained “neuromuscular" dentists are trained to help patients find the most comfortable posture for the jaw, which relaxes the muscles in the head and neck. Special computer equipment is used to measure jaw muscle activity, just as a cardiologist measures heart activity with an EKG. Once this relaxed posture is established, headache tension melts away.
Improved jaw posture can be established with a properly made bite plate, called an orthotic. Sometimes a simple bite adjustment on a filling can improve the jaw posture-the jaw muscles can be as sensitive as The Princess and the Pea. If there is a significant difference between the habitual bite and the ideal bite, porcelain bonding or orthodontics can be used to permanently correct the jaw posture, giving lasting relief to a lifetime of headache problems.
For more information about neuromuscular dentistry and how a dentist can fix your headaches, please visit the website of San Francisco neuromuscular dentist Josh Bernstein, DDS. Dr. Bernstein is a clinical instructor at the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies.