Cure a headache by holding a pencil between your teeth

WEB DESK: A throbbing headache is never welcome. But before you reach for a pain killer, try this suggestion from a health expert who claims that holding a pencil between your teeth can help you ease the tension.

Aesthetic specialist Dr Jane Leonard says most are tension headaches are triggered by stress, anxiety, tiredness and emotional upset.

They are typically caused by spasms of the muscles in the face, neck, jaw and scalp.

‘Patients often hold their temples to indicate where the source of the pain is,’ she said.

‘This is due to spasm of a fan-shaped muscle found across the temples spreading the back of the head called temporalis.’

These spasms are typically caused by jaw clenching or teeth grinding during sleep.

Dr Leonard, who has clinics in London and Manchester, said holding a pencil between your teeth can help relax the jaw muscle.

‘This is an exercise to try to relax the chewing muscles, which are in spasm in TMJ dysfunction,’ she said.

The jaw is one of the most complex joints in the body, and any problem that stops the muscles, ligaments, cartilage discs and bones in it from working properly can cause TMJ.

Characterised by pain and clicking in the joint, it’s estimated that around a quarter of us will develop it at some point.

TMJ dysfunction is an umbrella term for problems with jaw joint function and one of the most common problems we see is internal derangement of the jaw — where the normal movement of the joint disc is disturbed.

The jaw joints sit just in front of the ears, where the lower jaw bone meets the skull. In between where these two bones meet is a cartilage disc, which helps the jaw move smoothly.

Problems arise when this disc — which is the shape of a baseball cap and the size of a thumbnail — moves out of its usual position.

One reason why this happens is prolonged tooth grinding or clenching of the jaw

In addition, wear and tear with age can make the joint arthritic, and pieces may break off, again displacing the disc.

Experts say 80 per cent of all tension-type headaches – the most common type of headache – are caused by muscles in the neck.