How a cap on my tooth ended my headaches

Daily Mail June 14, 2005

FOR years, Mirjan Usiskin suffered from crippling tension headaches that sometimes left her bedridden and unable to work.

Ninety per cent of headaches fall into the tension category and can last minutes or days.

For some people, including Mirjan, the symptoms, which include tightness in the head and neck, sensitivity to light, depression, anxiety and even sleeping problems, can be severely debilitating.

'The headaches were awful. I would wake up in the morning and have to go back to bed again,' she says.

'I would have to ring work to tell them I was going to be late. I would have problems at least twice a week.

'I tried all the painkillers, including ibuprofen, regularly taking mere than ten tablets most weeks, but it didn't cure the problem and I didn't like popping so many pills.

'I tried physiotherapy to loosen up my body, which did help a bit, but only temporarily. Most of the time the only thing I could do was go to bed and wait for it to pass.'

Then, last year, her dentist offered an unlikely solution.

'He suggested I tried a mouth device that would slip on to my teeth and stop tension building up in my jaw. I was sceptical, but was so desperate I was willing to try anything.'

The device, called a nociceptive trigeminal inhibitor, fits on top of the teeth and alters the angle at which the jaw opens.

It is based on the theory that links tension headaches to muscular contraction in the head, neck and shoulders. The physical stress squeezes the blood vessels, slowing blood and oxygen flow and causing muscular spasms and head pain.

In most tension headaches, the tension culminates in the jaw.

Harley Street dentist Dr Anthony Zybutz, who is using the device, says:

'It is easy to see how it works. If you put your fingers on your temples and then clench your teeth, you will feel the muscles bunching up.

'Now, if you put a pencil between your teeth and bite, the muscle doesn't bunch up or go into spasms., It is so simple, but it makes a huge difference.'

The device, which costs about £450, is made of clear plastic and just under an inch wide. In most cases it is custom-made to fit snugly over the middle two teeth.

It can be removed easily at a particular angle, but should be too secure to be removed with the tongue or lips. It needs only to be worn at night, to counter the build up of tension.

Dentists should be able to refer patients to someone who provides it. |

DOCTORS   at  the  Bari Neurological Clinic in Italy compared the mouth device with an anti-depressant in patients who   suffered chronic, tension headache.

The device was just as effective in reducing headache frequency and strength as medication.

'The results we have been getting are fantastic,' says Dr Zytautz. 'We have not had one failure, even with people whose headaches have been so severe they have had to hide away and miss work.

'A big advantage is that it is not a medication, so if it doesn't work, you can just take it out.'

Mirjan says: 'I never thought a mouth device I wear at night could effect my head so profoundly. The effects were incredible. Within a few weeks, my headaches stopped.'

The American Food and Drug Administration has recently approved another oral device for headaches.

Called the intraoral vaso≠constrictor, this is based on the idea that many headaches are associated with inflammation in the areas above the upper molar teeth.

This inflammation causes swelling and puts pressure on the maxillary nerves behind the cheekbones. The device consists of hollow tubes which contain circulating ice water.  They are held against an the mouth that are thought to be inflamed.

An early study reported the intraoral vaso-constrictor was as effective as some in relieving headache pain.

This device will also be available through dentists.