Suffer from Headaches? You May Be Grinding Your Teeth

Do you suffer from headaches? You might have already gone through the list of possible explanations, like stress, fatigue, dehydration, and physical damage. If none of those causes make sense, you might end up stumped. What could be causing your head to pound the way it does? 

One possible explanation is teeth grinding. Some people don’t even realize they are doing it, as it often happens while the person sleeps. Eventually, though, teeth grinding will cause problems.

What are the Other Signs?

Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, luckily has some pretty obvious signs aside from headaches. If you’re not sure whether or not you suffer from bruxism, consider whether you experience any of the following signs.

Flattened, Chipped, or Loose Teeth

Over time, teeth grinding can wear down your teeth. It might take a while, but you could end up with flattened, chipped, or loose teeth. If this happens and you have no idea why then there’s a high chance you could be grinding your teeth during the night. You should see your dentist if you notice a change in your teeth, especially if they are loose or chipped.

Jaw or Facial Pain

If your headache is joined by jaw or facial pain, then bruxism could be to blame. It happens because of the constant movement of the jaw muscles, which eventually become tired and sore. If you experience a sore jaw in the morning, consider the possibility that you’re grinding your teeth during the night. 

Dislocation or Locking of the Jaw

If you have trouble with jaw movement or you experience locking of the jaw (where you can’t open or close the mouth), the culprit could be bruxism. Don’t ignore this – get to the bottom of it so you can treat the bruxism sooner rather than later. 

Sensitive Teeth

Another sign of bruxism is sensitive teeth. Of course, sensitive teeth can have various causes, from genetics to teeth whitening treatments. If it’s worse when you wake up and you haven’t experienced sensitive teeth before, though, consider that you might be grinding your teeth without noticing.

Ask Your Partner

If you sleep next to a partner, it’s a good idea to ask them if they’ve noticed any signs of bruxism. They may tell you that you clench or grind in the night. It will make things a lot clearer for you. 

What Are the Risks?

Bruxism should not be ignored. The risk factors range from mild pain to serious damage, so it’s important to identify bruxism as soon as possible and seek treatment. Here are the risks: 

Damage to Teeth

Over time, long term bruxism can lead to damaged teeth. You could chip your tooth, which may result in you needing expensive dental treatment like crowns, root canals, restorations, or other cosmetic dentistry


Some people with bruxism report mild soreness, whereas others experience intense pain. The pain can happen in your jaw, TMJ joint, head, ear, teeth, and anywhere else around your face. It is never pleasant, but don’t worry – treatments are available. 

Sleep Apnea

Due to the movement, bruxism can cause sleep apnea, where your breathing is interrupted during the night. It can interrupt your sleep, leaving you feeling tired and drained even after spending an entire night in bed. 

Muscle Problems

As well as muscle pain, you might experience other muscle problems in the face. You may experience restricted motion and find you cannot open and close your mouth as easily as before. 

Temporomandibular Disorders

One of the worst risks of teeth grinding is temporomandibular disorder, which affects your temporomandibular joint TMJ. The temporomandibular joints connect the jaw joint to the skull and are the reason you can open and close your mouth with ease. TMJ disorders harm this jaw joint, making movements like chewing and talking challenging and painful. 

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, “the prevalence of temporomandibular joint and muscle disorder (TMJD) is between 5% and 12%.”

Dental and Craniofacial Research also notes that it’s higher in younger patients. With these rates, it’s important to understand what to look out for and to manage bruxism before it turns into a TMJ disorder.

What Can You Do About Bruxism?

To prevent and treat bruxism and avoid the risks, especially temporomandibular disorders, you need to spot the signs and book an appointment with your dentist if you spot any. Here are some of the common treatments: 

Mouth Guard

A mouth guard is one of the most popular treatments for bruxism, especially for those who grind their teeth during sleep. It is usually worn during the night and prevents the patient from clenching and grinding down.

If you have noticed clenching or grinding teeth, our dentist in Asheville can help with diagnosis and treatment. If you have bruxism, we offer a fitted night guard that will prevent you from biting down. As they are custom-made, they are more than comfortable enough to sleep in. 

Relaxation Techniques

Many people start grinding their teeth due to stress. For that reason, one of the treatments offered is relaxation techniques. That might include yoga, deep breathing, meditation, and massage.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can also help bruxism, particularly massages. It can help relax the jaw muscles, which, in turn, relieves the pain. The physical therapist may also give you some exercises to do at home.


Certain cases of bruxism, especially long-term ones, might require medication. That usually involves a muscle relaxant to take before bedtime to ensure your jaw muscles stay relaxed during the night, preventing you from grinding. 

Botox Injections

Botox injections are often given to long-term sufferers of bruxism. It’s usually only for severe cases, but it has been shown to help relieve symptoms. The treatment lasts between 3 and 6 months. 

Getting a headache doesn’t always mean you are grinding your teeth. If there’s no other explanation, though, and you show other signs of bruxism, it’s worth looking into. The sooner you get bruxism diagnosed, the sooner you can start treatment and protect your teeth.