Have a Dental question? Ask Dr. Ellis by commenting here and check back for a response.
Dr. Marissa Rubio-Ellis has been practicing general and cosmetic dentistry in the Phoenix area for over 10 years.
Dear Dr Ellis,
Is it true that grinding my teeth at night can cause headaches? If so, what can i do to prevent them?
Thanks for your help,
Dear Sara P.,
Teeth grinding (bruxism) is a condition that mainly occurs at night and involves clenching of the jaw muscles and grinding the teeth back and forth over one another. Many people who grind their teeth may actually clench their jaws during the day in stressful situations or because of an uneven bite. Not only can severe grinding damage teeth, bridges and crowns and result in tooth loss, it can also cause jaw tenderness, worsen Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) pain, lead to hearing loss, or change the shape or appearance of the face.
How Harmful is Teeth Grinding?
Teeth grinding is usually caused by a misaligned bite or missing or uneven teeth, but can sometimes by caused by stress. Most people are not aware that they grind their teeth because it normally happens at night while they are asleep. Sometimes, someone sleeping in the same room will alert them to the grinding, while other times, the dentist will notice the teeth looking worn or damaged.
What Are the Signs?
If you think you might be a teeth grinder, you should pay attention to any teeth that are fractured, chipped, flattened or worn down to the point where the deep layers of the tooth are exposed;
⚫️ Increased tooth sensitivity
⚫️ Tight, tired or painful jaw muscle
⚫️ An earache due to jaw muscle contractions, not an ear infection, a dull headache
⚫️ Damage on the inside of the cheek from chewing on it when grinding and/or indentation in the tongue
What Can Be Done?
A mouth or occlusal guard that is custom made of a hard resin material is the best course of treatment for teeth grinding. Mouth Guards protect the top and bottom teeth by separating them and relaxing the jaw muscles. They are mostly worn at bedtime, but can also be worn during the day to help relieve clenching, especially in stressful situations.
If stress is the main cause of the teeth grinding, it may help to cut out caffeine-containing beverages such as coffee, tea and soda, and try limiting your consumption of alcohol. Exercise and meditation may also decrease your level of stress, thereby decreasing your clenching/grinding.
All the Best,
Dr. Marissa Ellis