Headaches & Migraines

Bruxism (tooth grinding and tooth clenching) has many effects on the sufferer, most commonly, tooth wear and broken teeth. One of the most debilitating effects of bruxism is headaches, migraines and chronic tension headaches, these symptoms often go untreated because who would think that it is caused by tooth grinding or clenching? The severity of headaches can be assessed by using the HIT6 Questionnaire, using a series of six simple questions the level of severity can be monitored.

During sleep we all do strange things, such as snore, kick our legs and talk in our sleep. But one of the most common things we do at some time during our lives is grind our teeth. For lots of people this goes unrecognised, some people may notice their teeth are wearing down or breaking, but for the unlucky ones, they suffer with headaches and migraines.

Did you ever wonder what these symptoms have in common which all make your life miserable ?

They all are controlled and/or moderated by the Trigeminal Nerve System. When the muscles start making your jaw clench and grind your teeth, the Trigenminal Nerve System gets bombarded with signals, if the system is compromised then it is unable to handle the signals and is misinterpreted, resulting in a noxious stimulus to the fluid surrounding the brain resulting in a pounding headache or migraine.

We now know that many symptoms can be related to this noxious input and our understanding of the Trigeminal nerve and how the symptoms relate to a migraine sufferer.

The Trigeminal Nerve has to two divisions:

A) Motor Root, which sends nerve impulses to the jaw muscles to make them contract; the far more massive Sensory Division (made up of the nerves that bring in information from the periphery).
B) Sensory Division is divided into three distinct segments of sensory reception (thus the term Trigeminal):

  • First Division: Opthalmic: receives sensory input from arteries that surround the brain to around and behind the eyes
  • Second Division: Maxillary: receives sensory input from below the eyes to the upper jaw.
  • Third Division: Mandibular: receives sensory input for the entire lower jaw.
    All three divisions feed into the Trigeminal Sensory Nucleus.

The current understanding of the nature of the migraine, is that it results from a disorder of "sensory modulation", meaning that information received by the Sensory
Nucleus is misinterpreted, thereby resulting in either a disproportionate response, or an inappropriate response altogether. For example, during a migraine attack, the
simple pressure changes of the fluid that surrounds the brain (resulting from the beating of the heart), is perceived as "pounding".

The therapeutic goal in migraine prevention is to limit the amount of noxious sensory input (that is, to limit your migraine "triggers") to the Trigeminal Sensory Nucleus. The way in which we can do this is by reducing the intensity of  tooth grinding and clenching, thereby reducing the amount of signals being sent back to the Trigeminal nerve system. The most clinically effective device that can do this is SCi.