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Everyone has had headaches. For many people, they can just pop an aspirin and the pain goes away after a few minutes. But what about people with persistent, daily, chronic headaches? There may be more to it than meets the eye.

There are a multitude of potential causes for headache, they range from nutritional (lack of protein), to hormonal (chemical imbalance), to physical (poor posture). You may have contemplated them all, but did you know there may also be a dental component to your headache? A condition known as bruxism might be the cause.

Bruxism is the term used when you clench your jaw and/or grind your teeth at night. The powerful muscles that position and move your teeth for this work are the temporalis and the masseter muscles. The temporalis is a broad fan-shaped muscle on each side of the head covering the temples, and the masseter is the thick, rectangular muscle of the jaw. Both of these muscles aid in mastication–that is, chewing. Immense pressure is exerted to forcefully bring the teeth together.

You can imagine that such pressure will do to the teeth over time, and not only can it be the cause for premature wearing and potentially damaging your teeth, but nighttime bruxism tires those muscles, making them build up lactic acid and causing them to be sore. When this happens, the ache can be transferred to your head resulting in a migraine, tension, or cluster headache.

A dental appliance can relieve this issue at night, but sleep studies show a connection between bruxism, headaches, and a sleeping disorder commonly called sleep apnea. Check with your doctor to discuss whether or not you should partake in a sleep study for the condition.

If you’d like more education about a dental device for bruxism, call Dr. Milad and our helpful team at Shining Smiles LLC. Phone: 630-972-4010, or come by our office in Bolingbrook, Franklin Park, Joliet, Naperville, Plainfield, Riverside, and Wheaton, Illinois.