Did you know that the way your teeth bite together (Dental Occlusion) may contribute to jaw pain and headaches? 

Our dentists have a special interest in occlusion and can offer tailored treatment based on a specific examination of your bite.


It is not commonly known that many head and neck pains can originate from both the jaw joint and the muscles that open and close the jaw. 

In fact, it has been shown that over 50% of regularly occurring headaches are caused in this way. These problems can be magnified by various other factors, including: 

  • Stress 
  • Tooth grinding and/or clenching
  • An uneven bite (another name for the way your teeth meet when your jaws bites together is Dental Occlusion).



How do I know if my head and neck pains are being caused by jaw and bite problems?

Have a look at the questions below. If you answer 'yes' to several of them, you may have a problem we can help with.  

  • Do you clench or grind your teeth during the day?
  • Are you aware of clenching or grinding your teeth at night?
  • Do your jaws feel tired when you wake up?
  • Do you suffer from chronic headaches of any kind?
  • Do you experience chronic neck or shoulder pain?
  • Do you get pain around your jaw joints or your ear?
  • Do your jaw joints ever click or pop when you open your mouth?
  • Do you have problems opening your mouth wide?
  • Do you tend to chew on one side of your mouth?
  • Do you have problems biting?


How can I tell if I have a problem?

If your teeth don't fit together properly, you can have problems with your teeth themselves, as well as your gums, your jaw joint (the temporo-mandibular joint or TMJ) or the muscles that move your jaw. These may include: 

  • Clicking, grinding or pain in your jaw joints, ringing or buzzing in your ears and difficulty in opening and closing your mouth. Many people grind their teeth whilst asleep or when concentrating on a task, which can be further amplified by stress and anxiety.
  • Severe headaches, neck or shoulder pain, which you may not have linked with possible jaw problems. If your jaw is in the wrong position, the muscles that work your jaw have to work a lot harder and can get tired. This can lead to muscle spasms, headaches and migraines especially first thing in the morning. You could also experience pain behind your eyes, sinus pain and pains in your neck and shoulders.  
  • If you are missing some teeth at the back of your mouth your bite may have become unbalanced which can cause uneven pressure on your other teeth. Teeth that are heavily worn or constantly breaking and fillings that fracture or crowns that work loose may all be signs of occlusal problems. 


How are occlusal problems treated?

Our dentists have a special interest in occlusion and have spent years studying the subject. We carry out a specific Occlusal Examination to assess the signs and symptoms of an occlusal problem. Various muscles may be sore when tested and broken or worn areas of your teeth will show whether you are grinding them. 

Once the problem has been identified, we are able to recommend treatment that is appropriate for you. If our dentist suspects that the problems may be due to an incorrect bite, s/he may help to diagnose the problem by supplying you with a plastic appliance that fits over your upper or lower teeth. This appliance (known as a splint) needs to be measured and fitted very accurately so that when worn, your teeth bite together at exactly the same time and in a position where your muscles are relaxed. These splints are usually worn at night (although they sometimes need to be worn during the daytime as well). If the splint relieves your symptoms then your bite may need to be adjusted permanently. 


Treatments for occlusal problems:

The most frequently used treatments include:

  • A full occlusal splint - a carefully constructed, hard plastic splint can be used to give long term relief by allowing the teeth to contact in an ideal bite position when the jaw closes.
  • Equilibration - if a splint has relieved the symptoms it may be possible to produce a permanent 'cure' by carefully trimming minute areas of the teeth, to allow them to close together evenly and correctly without having to wear a splint. 
  • Orthodontics - large errors in tooth position can be corrected by straightening teeth. This should enable a better relationship between the teeth and a more comfortable bite. 
  • Reconstructive dentistry - sometimes the best way to correct the bite involves restoring the teeth with carefully constructed fillings, crowns or bridges designed to improve the way the teeth fit and close together.


 To find out more about our dentists Marc and Kate, click here: