Bruxism/teeth grinding, a possible cause of neck pain and headaches

Bruxism/teeth grinding, a possible cause of neck pain and headaches

If you get up in the morning with neck, head or jaw pain, are clenching or grinding your teeth involuntarily and are going through a stressful time, you may have bruxism and don’t know it. 30% of headaches have their origin in a combination of stress and an imbalance in the adjustment of the teeth or malocclusion. Studies such as Ciancaglini and Radaelli (2001) refer to this relationship between temporomandibular disorders, migraines and tension headaches.

Hombre estresado

Bruxism (from the Greek βρύκειν (/brükein/): ‘grinding [your teeth]’) is the involuntary habit of clenching or grinding tooth structures for no functional purpose. It affects between 10% and 20% of the world’s population and cases rise to 30% due to stress. The problem of grinding or clenching teeth is growing, particularly among pre-teens. The condition even affects 10% of children between the ages of 4 and 6, according to data from the Sanitas Oral Health Study 2016. Nowadays, pathologies diagnosed due to stress or anxiety are becoming more and more frequent due, in part, to the pace of work and lifestyle. Currently, more than 70% of the Spanish adult population suffer from bruxism. However, in many cases, the patient is unaware of it.

Temporomandibular joint or TMJ is a fundamental mechanism for jaw mobility as it allows us to chew food and talk. It is one of the most complex anatomical structures in our body, one of the most used, which must work in a balanced and symmetrical way to operate correctly. Any disorders to it give rise to dysfunctions, which include limitation and deviation when opening the mouth, limitation of laterality and intra-articular noises, which affect the functional speech, chewing and swallowing ensemble.

These jaw problems can cause discomfort, aching of the head, neck, ears, jaw ache, sternum, eyes, teeth, as well as ringing, tinnitus, dizziness, loss of balance, visual problems, changes in position and a burning sensation.

Mujer apretando los dientes

When a person has a bad bite, they usually do two things: change the position of the jaw and bite with the jaw off-centre, causing stress or change the inclination of the head, causing neck pain.

Poor posture can also be an important factor in TMJ symptoms. For example, keeping your head forward all day while you are facing the computer stresses the muscles of your face and neck.

Although treatment must be multidisciplinary, using physiotherapy we can study the position up to the integrity of the entire masticatory system, assess the problem and offer treatment to these limitations and pains. As the origin of this condition is directly linked to stress, it is also important to make changes to our routine that will allow us to reduce stress and stress levels.

Physiotherapy can reduce craniofacial and cervical pain as well as the intensity and frequency of headaches. It also reduces masticatory fatigue and improves jaw function.

Bruxism can be treated using physiotherapy and osteopathy, by treating muscular and postural ailments in order to:

  • Reduce tension and muscle spasm in the affected area.
  • Restore function and mobility in TMJ and cervical column.
  • Work at the level of the skull and its relationship with the jaw.
  • Treat possible alterations in the cervical column, musculature, aponeurosis and neck fascia…
  • Return the physiologic movement to the jaw, to protect the temporomandibular joint and prevent premature wear.
  • Postural correction in cases of daytime bruxism.

The suboccipital musculature inhibition technique on which INYBI is based can relieve tension in the jaw and pain related to bruxism by acting on the spinal nucleus of the trigeminal nerve, which innervates the chewing muscles through the myodural connection between the rectus capitis posterior minor muscle and the dura mater.

Técnica bruxismo

In the following video, Didac Guirao, lecturer at the  EOM, a member of IACES, a member of Centre Marina in Barcelona and specialist in the treatment of Temporomandibular Dysfunctions (TMD), explains how to use INYBI with patients suffering from temporomandibular dysfunction, with a cervical pathology linked to postural disorders mainly regarding the forward position of the head.  Heads in a forward position involve a hyperextension of C0 over C1 with a shortening of the suboccipital musculature space. Usually, these patients, who are referred by the dentist, sometimes have restrictions on the mouth opening. Firstly, the INYBI will help inhibit suboccipital musculature and secondly, will allow us to maintain cervical hyperextension at a C0-C1 level, which will facilitate the opening of the mouth. FEEL RELIEF & GET an INYBI!!


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