Summary: Headaches have a habit of striking at the most inopportune moments, but the solution to your pain may be much more fast and accessible than you think. Experts have revealed that holding a pencil between your teeth can help with headaches because it relaxes your jaw and eases tension and pain. This is an exercise to try to relax chewing muscles, which are in spasm due to temporomandibular dysfunction.

There are many things that cause headaches, such as stress, anxiety, tiredness and emotional upset. These 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. This is due to spasm of a fan-shaped muscle found across the temples spreading across the temporal bone called temporalis.

These spasms are also related to jaw muscles. When your jaw is not in a comfortable, relaxed position, tension can build up in the temporalis muscle, which in turn is passed on to other muscles in the head. This leads to widespread tension headaches. (Dr. Jane Leonard, Aesthetic specialist)

Temporomandibular (TMJ) dysfunction can also cause tension headaches. The main cause is jaw clenching and teeth grinding during sleep. This causes spasm of the chewing muscles, which causes pain.

TMJ dysfunction is best managed by tackling the underlying cause of stress.

Experts say that simple relaxation techniques such as massaging the jaw and forehead, gentle jaw stretching exercises or opting for softer foods can help. 

And apparently, so can pencils, which are recommended as an effective way to treat tension headaches and TMJ dysfunction. This is an exercise to try to relax chewing muscles, which are in spasm in TMJ dysfunction. (Dr. Jane Leonard, Aesthetic specialist)

According to experts, holding a pencil between your teeth – but not biting it – can help relax your jaw muscle. This can help reduce the tension in your head, and, along with it, the pain of tension headaches.

Holistic approaches are recommended as an effective way to treat tension headaches and TMJ dysfunction. Addressing the underlying cause, for example stress and anxiety is more effective than medication alone."

Depending on the cause of your tension headache, simple painkillers may also be effective.

Unfortunately, successful headache relief isn’t always as simple as just putting a pencil between your teeth. The pencil helps reposition your jaw, and for many people we can say that it puts the jaw in a more comfortable position.

However, it’s hardly a precise treatment, and for some people the pencil might actually put the jaw in a more uncomfortable position. Regular use of the pencil trick might lead to more tension in the long run, tension in different muscles, or may contribute to tension and damage to the jaw joint. This all becomes worse if people improperly bite down on the pencil, which will also contribute to tooth damage. So we have to be careful and hence find a long term solution that would not make a situation worse.


COPYRIGHT: This article is the property of We Speak Science, a nonprofit institution co-founded by Dr Detina Zalli (Harvard University) and Dr Argita Zalli (Imperial College London). The article is written by Vedat Sunguri ( Master of Pharmacy, University of Pristina).