It is often the case that chronic pain affecting the head and neck are the result of pain from the chewing muscles.
The pain can be felt in the face from the muscles themselves, or it may be felt elsewhere, for example, in the neck. These problems can also give rise to symptoms of earache and sinusitis.
The pain is commonly generated at night, when people often clench or grind the teeth, thereby causing muscle fatigue. This can result in headache on wakening, often accompanied by general fatigue owing to the way in which the activity while asleep damages the quality of the sleep.
Tooth clenching and grinding is very destructive to a dentition, and results in toothache, high rates of tooth wear and fractures of the teeth.
Typically, when we use our mouth for the normal functions of talking, chewing and swallowing, the teeth contact very gently and briefly, for an average of ten minutes in every twenty-four hours. When clenching and grinding, we can apply ten to twenty times the normal pressure for hours per night. It is little wonder that this is so destructive.
Nobody really knows why a person gnashes their teeth in this way. It appears to be the case that a person, at times of stress, ceases to cope with fitting their upper and lower teeth together, and clenches or grinds in order to iron out those features of the dentition which are bothersome. This may also be provoked by the insertion of a filling or crown which gets in the way of the habitual operation of the teeth.
The jaw joints (TMJs) can also be subjected to large, destructive forces when a person clenches or grinds their teeth. Consequently, pain and derangement of the components of the TMJs can occur, and is a common complaint.
The problems described above can come and go, but can also last for years in many cases. Because the pain generated in the chewing apparatus is poorly understood in the medical and dental profession as a whole, sufferers struggle to find adequate care and assistance.
I have undertaken extensive training and have had great success in the treatment of such problems. Any sufferer of chronic pain affecting the head and/or neck wishing to have me investigate their problem can book a special consultation for this purpose.
The treatment, where appropriate, involves the wearing of an appliance in the mouth for the purpose of relaxing fatigued chewing muscles and coordinating their activity. The appliance artificially creates a biting pattern working in harmony with the jaw joints. In so doing, the muscles work together in a powerful fashion, while reducing those activities giving rise to pain.