Do you find yourself waking up with a sore jaw and a headache? You may be grinding your teeth at night, which is referred to as bruxism, a condition commonly caused by stress. Bruxism is considered a sleep-related movement disorder and is very common. Teeth grinding and headaches are symptoms of bruxism and can often be relieved with custom night guards from our experienced dentists.
- Tooth Grinding Symptoms
- What Causes Teeth Grinding?
- Bruxism or TMJ Disorder?
- Treating Teeth Grinding
Tooth Grinding Symptoms
Headaches are the most common symptom of teeth grinding. Other signs of this habit include worn, flattened, fractured, chipped, or loose teeth. Chronic clenching and grinding can also cause increased tooth sensitivity, jaw and face pain and soreness, and muscle fatigue. Some patients may also damage the inside of their cheek and tongue from excessive clenching and chewing.
What Causes Teeth Grinding?
While there is no definitive cause for bruxism, doctors believe it is caused primarily by emotions such as stress, anxiety, anger, frustration, and tension. These feelings can cause the muscles in the jaw, face, and neck to become tense and overworked. Other causes include malocclusion, which is when the upper and lower teeth are not properly aligned. Obstructive sleep apnea can also cause patients to clench and grind their teeth at night. Medications for stress and anxiety can also cause bruxism.
Bruxism or TMJ Disorder?
While both bruxism and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder can have negative effects on the teeth and jaw, they are separate conditions. Patients who have bruxism may simply grind their teeth unconsciously while they sleep, during the day, or both. Those who have TMJ disorder experience problems related to the dysfunction of the muscles and joints that connect the upper and lower jaw. This condition can include pain and tension in the jaw, ears, face, and neck. However, headaches are common for both conditions. Although the bruxism and TMJ disorder are separate, they can each be caused or worsened by the other. Our team of doctors can determine your exact condition and prescribe the proper treatment.
Treating Teeth Grinding
There are very effective treatments to help alleviate your discomfort and other symptoms caused by teeth grinding. Our dentists can design a custom night guard that covers your upper teeth and provides protection from grinding and damage. Their night guards fit comfortably and do not hinder your ability to achieve a good night’s rest. Other treatments include:
- Using a warm compress to soothe muscles in the jaw
- Gently massaging jaw and facial muscles
- Reducing stress
- Getting sufficient sleep
- Avoiding chewing gum
- Avoiding excessive alcohol and caffeine intake
- Focusing on relaxation techniques throughout the day
Our team will work with you to determine the best treatment to fit your unique needs for lasting relief.
Experience Relief from Headaches
Our dentists understand how headaches from teeth grinding can affect your daily life and mood. We are committed to providing effective bruxism treatments that minimize teeth grinding and headaches so you can enjoy a more productive life. We can also provide treatments to restore the appearance of your teeth if they have been worn by grinding and clenching. Contact our office online or call (757) 483-6297 to schedule your appointment.