Updated: Jan 8, 2021
How can you tell if your headache is a result of poor jaw function? Here are some easy to recognise signs to help you spot a jaw-related headache;
Wear on your canines
Uneven or restricted opening of your mouth (three-finger test)
Clicking/popping sounds in your jaw when you chew, yawn or speak
Tightness or ongoing clenching of the jaw
Headaches are a common problem but getting to the underlying reason for the headache can be very tricky as there are so many different triggers. In today’s blog we talk about four really easy to look-for signs that your jaw function might be the hidden culprit behind your headaches. If you recognise any of these in yourself we advise you to get assessed and treated by a soft tissue therapist as an initial step to identifying and eliminating your headaches
1. Wear on your canines
A sign that could help you understand if you are clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth is to have a look at your teeth in the mirror to see if there is any obvious wear. The canine teeth which
are the 4 teeth just outside of your front 4 incisors on both the top and bottom of your mouth, should have a nice point on them. If these teeth instead look quite flat and more similar to the incisors this means that you have been doing some pretty serious grinding and this could be a factor in your headaches.
2. Uneven or restricted opening of your mouth
The second sign of a problem with your jaw function can also be spotted by examining yourself in the mirror! This time have a look at what happens when you simply open and close your mouth. Do both sides open evenly or does your jaw slant off to the right or left? Also how far can you open your mouth? You should be able to fit your three middle fingers vertically between your top and bottom teeth without an issue. We call this the three-finger
test and it is used by therapists to assess the health and movement of a person’s jaw.
3. Clicking/popping sounds in your jaw when you chew/yawn or speak
Thirdly, can you hear or feel any clicking or popping sounds in your jaw as you chew your food, do a big yawn or even sometimes while you are speaking? This is another sign that your jaw isn’t moving optimally and contributing to your headache. The joints on either side of your jaw act as a sliding hinge. This sliding action should be able to happen very smoothly like the hinge on a door that allows for opening and closing.
4. A constant tightness or clenching of your jaw
If you stop and think about your jaw and what it feels like, does it feel relaxed? Or is it clenched? Often we can be clenching constantly without even realising it. This can add to the stress within the muscles in your head, causing headaches
If you answered yes to any of these signs it’s not time to panic. Instead, it’s time to get yourself in for an appointment with one of the therapists here at Muscle Medicine. We are able to work on the muscles that control your jaw movement and function both from the outside and also from the inside of your mouth.
This is a great way to eliminate jaw function as a cause of your headaches. If treating the jaw muscles eliminates or decreases your headaches intensity, duration and/or frequency that’s a sure tail sign that your headaches were jaw-related. Our therapists can also provide you with some simple exercises to ensure you are doing everything you can to help with headache relief.
At Muscle Medicine we will work with you to identify benchmarks so we can measure any improvement during your treatment plan and you can enjoy pain-free days again!
Find out more about our Headache Relief Services.