Can jaw clenching give a migraine headache?

There are various types of headaches that affect us in our daily lives. Each type of headache has its cause, but it is highly unlikely that you ever thought that your jaw could be causing your headache. Teeth grinding and teeth clenching are also common causes of headaches. Teeth clenching headache is a common phenomenon, and according to the American Migraine Foundation, one in ten people report suffering from teeth grinding headache.[1] 

Teeth clenching happens when the top and bottom teeth clamp together and grinding happens when you move your teeth horizontally while the teeth are still clenched. This condition is known as bruxism, and people who have bruxism are known to unconsciously clench their teeth while awake or grind and clench them during sleep.[2] Teeth grinding during sleep are more likely to involve sleep disorders, such as snoring and sleep apnoea. It's common in young children, but it goes away with maturity.

The Bruxism Association in the U.K. estimates that people who regularly grind their teeth are three times more likely to experience bruxism headaches than those who do not grind their teeth.[3]

Teeth grinding headaches are usually classified as temporomandibular disorders (TMD) by the International Headache Society.[4] TMD is common in many people and often leads to mild headaches. However, four to seven percent of the population is known to have severe symptoms that need jaw clenching treatment to get relief from such bruxism headaches.[5] 

Teeth grinding may also be related to gastroesophageal reflux disease (Gerd) and other Vata Pitta imbalances. Typically, bruxism does not cause complications. But severe bruxism can cause damage to teeth, tension headaches, jaw pain, and neck pain. Schedule an appointment with a dentist to assess any dental abnormalities.

See: Waking up with a headache or migraine

Causes of teeth clenching or grinding?

What are the Causes of Clenching or Grinding?

To understand how to stop clenching jaw and headache from clenching jaw, it is important to under the cases of teeth clenching or grinding. There could be many causes of sleep bruxism, or clenching/grinding your teeth while sleeping, including:

•        Intense periods of concentration: The American Academy of Oral Medicine believes that long periods of intense concentration can lead to teeth clenching/grinding.[6]

•        Emotional stress, anxiety, or anger: Emotional stress, anger, or anxiety are all known to be common triggers for clenching or grinding teeth that may lead to bruxism either during the day or at night.[7,8]

•        Blocked nose or allergies: Being unable to breathe properly through your nose due to a stuffy nose, allergies, or being in a dry or stuffy room, can often cause a person to breathe through their mouth. This blockage can trigger the autonomic nervous system while sleeping, and when this gets switched on, you tend to lose some voluntary control over muscle activity. This loss of control increases the likelihood of bruxism and a headache from clenching jaw. It has been observed that children with seasonal allergies are especially susceptible to teeth clenching and grinding.[9] In people with allergic rhinitis, the tissues at the back of the throat tend to become inflamed, putting pressure on the ear tubs, thus obstructing them entirely over time. Clenching or grinding the teeth helps relieve pressure on these ear tubes, which is why many people often suffer from sleep bruxism without being consciously aware of the condition.[10]

•        Sleep disorders: Sleep disorders are known to be another prevalent cause of sleep bruxism. Sleep bruxism is also considered to be a type of sleep disorder.[11] Sleep bruxism is also linked with other types of sleep disorders, such as snoring and sleep apnea.[12] When you are in a deep sleep, the muscles are completely relaxed, which can cause problems in some cases as the muscles are unable to keep the path between the lungs and the outside air open.[13] Researchers have found that people with a partial blockage in their airways are more likely to clench or grind their teeth in an attempt to re-open the airway in their sleep. Once these patients were successful in keeping their airways open throughout the night, the clenching and grinding also stopped.[14,15]

There are many more factors that also play a major role in bruxism headaches. In order to get relief for a headache arising from teeth grinding, it is essential to seek treatment for bruxism.

See: Mouth Tape For Better Sleep & Healthy Mouth

Bruxism natural treatments

Jaw Clenching Treatment

Studies have shown that treating daytime bruxism is more challenging than sleep bruxism. This variation is likely due to the increased levels of anxiety and somatic symptoms in such people.[16] Somatic symptoms are a term used for psychological distress of some type that expresses itself as actual physical symptoms in the body. Somatic symptoms such as nausea, clenching of teeth, and pain are genuine and not falsely reported. 

Here are some practical recommendations on how you can get relief from headache from clenching jaw.

1. Wear a Mouth Guard: Also known as an occlusal splint or a nightguard, a mouth guard works as the first treatment for how to stop clenching jaw and prevent teeth grinding headache. A mouth guard helps alleviate the strain that is placed from strenuous jaw grinding and clenching and helps prevent sore jaw joints and muscles.[17] 

Mouthguards can improve the severity of teeth clenching, but the one drawback to using a mouth guard is that it might not have any lasting effects on decreasing the frequency of teeth clenching in the night.[18]

2. Ensuring proper sleep habits: Having a good sleeping routine and hygiene can help in jaw clenching treatment, especially at night.[19] Remember that if you want to know how to stop clenching jaw and grinding, practicing good sleep hygiene is essential. Good sleep hygiene should involve restricting caffeine intake from the evening, limiting screen time before going to bed, ensuring an optimal sleeping environment in the bedroom, and avoiding having a T.V. in the bedroom. 

3. Regular exercise: There are numerous health benefits of regular exercise. The primary benefit of exercise in helping relieve teeth clenching headache is that it helps you manage your stress better. Exercise releases endorphins, which help relieve aches and pains in the body and also boosts your sense of well-being. This release of endorphins is believed to help people with bruxism.[20]

4. Manage stress: Two commonly proposed techniques for stress management are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Biofeedback. CBT and biofeedback are inclined to be most effective when performed in combination with other approaches to decrease the frequency and severity of bruxism. Yoga is great to manage stress as well.

5.  Meditation: This and other relaxation techniques can generate a greater sense of self-esteem; help manage stress, stress, and control over the body. There's not any substantial evidence in the literature concerning its effectiveness. Its usage may be more beneficial to people with anxiety or anxiety-related causes.

6. Behavioral therapy: Bruxism, especially daytime bruxism, is a habit that we may slip into subconsciously with time. By the time we know it, we might have become deeply rooted in this behavior. Behavioral modification and habit reversal may provide helpful methods to break the stubborn habit. In more challenging cases, psychological counseling can be useful.

7. Botox: Recent studies have reviewed Botox as a therapy for migraine and bruxism. Results indicated that the strength and force of the action were decreased significantly, but no change in frequency has been found. It's anticipated that as the effect wears off from Botox around the 12-week stage, the force of the clenching and grinding return.

8. Electrical stimulation: Electric Stimulation was tried with bruxism. Results from two studies found a decrease in the frequency of bruxism during sleep but with no change in pain or muscle strain. This result suggests that although the frequency of pain is reduced, the seriousness and force of clenching and grinding isn't. Another study confirmed this result in addition to discovering that the benefits have been realized only while the apparatus was being used. The results did not last after the device was ceased.

9. Physical treatment: This might be used to alleviate some of the strain and stiffness caused by excessive use of the jaw muscles.

10.  Hypnosis: This is just one alternative approach that has been suggested by some dental organizations, although it lacks clinical signs.

11. Supplements:

Magnesium: A lack of magnesium may lead to anxiety, irritability, sleeplessness, restlessness, and hyperactivity. A standard dose of top-quality chelated form magnesium can aid these indicators and possibly reduce clenching or grinding action. Magnesium can also help reduce migraine attacks, constipation, and muscle cramps.

- Vitamin C: Stress management is an integral element for many with bruxism. Vitamin C can complement stress management efforts by encouraging our adrenal glands that affect stress responses. Vitamin C is also crucial to make dopamine that's used to modulate mood and help prevent illness. Illness is another possible cause of bruxism, so this may involve some synergy in avoidance. Additional study is warranted to substantiate this theory.

- B-Complex vitamins: Deficiency in B-vitamins may result in psychological stress, depression, and nervousness. The effectiveness of a B-complex was demonstrated in general health and wellness. 

- Valerian root: This supplement has been used for centuries as a natural stimulant. It's anti-anxiety properties and has been shown to enhance the quality of sleep with no side effects. Since bruxism is regarded as a sleep-related motion disorder, Valerian root might be beneficial.

There is weak evidence from research supporting the treatments above and vitamins. They could be useful, but randomized clinical trials are expected to establish their real efficacy in treating bruxism.

12. Ayurveda: Within an Ayurveda approach, there are a number of preparations that are shown to be effective in clinical practice. An Ayurveda practitioner would have the ability to prescribe the perfect ones after a comprehensive consultation. A few drops of Ghee applied on the crown and drinking warm milk at bedtime can be attempted as home remedies. Include raisins, cherry, eggs, complex carbohydrates, almonds, ghee in his diet. Ensure timely sleep, timely meals, sunlight exposure, and physical activity in the day time. Reduce coffee, refined carbohydrates like pasta, bread, and pastries, and prevent exercise after sunset. 

See: How To Get Rid Of Sinus Headache & Migraine

Summary

Teeth clenching and grinding is known as a significant cause of headaches. Not only is bruxism harmful to your teeth, but it also leads to several other health problems. This health hazard is why if you have either daytime or sleep bruxism, and it is causing headaches, then seeking medical attention at the earliest is a must. Not only will treatment help prevent further damage to your teeth, but it can also relieve your headaches.

See: Common Migraine Triggers List

References

1. Americanmigrainefoundation.org. 2020. [online] Available at: [Accessed 28 May 2020].

2. Shetty, S., Pitti, V., Babu, C.S., Kumar, G.S., and Deepthi, B.C., 2010. Bruxism: a literature review. The Journal of Indian Prosthodontic Society, 10(3), pp.141-148.

3. Bruxism.org.uk. 2020. What Is Bruxism?. [online] Available at: [Accessed 28 May 2020].

4. Gobel, H., 2020. ICHD-3 The International Classification Of Headache Disorders 3Rd Edition. [online] ICHD-3 The International Classification of Headache Disorders 3rd edition. Available at: [Accessed 28 May 2020].

5. Download.e-bookshelf.de. 2020. [online] Available at: [Accessed 28 May 2020].

6. Staff, S., 2020. Tooth Clenching Or Grinding. [online] Aaom.com. Available at: [Accessed 28 May 2020].

7. Morse, D.R., 1982. Stress and bruxism: a critical review and report of cases. Journal of Human Stress, 8(1), pp.43-54.

8. Carvalho, A.L.D.A., Cury, A.A.D.B., and Garcia, R.C.M.R., 2008. Prevalence of bruxism and emotional stress and the association between them in Brazilian police officers. Brazilian Oral Research, 22(1), pp.31-35.

9. Marks, M.B., 1980. Bruxism in allergic children. American journal of orthodontics, 77(1), pp.48-59.

10. Dental, M., 2020. How North Texas Allergy Season Is Messing With Your Mouth | Mansfield, TX. [online] Mansfield Dental Associates. Available at: [Accessed 28 May 2020].

11. Macaluso, G.M., Guerra, P., Di Giovanni, G., Boselli, M., Parrino, L. and Terzano, M.G., 1998. Sleep bruxism is a disorder related to periodic arousals during sleep. Journal of dental research, 77(4), pp.565-573. 

12. Oksenberg, A., and Arons, E., 2002. Sleep bruxism related to obstructive sleep apnea: the effect of continuous positive airway pressure. Sleep medicine, 3(6), pp.513-515.

13. Ng, D.K.K., Kwok, K.L., Poon, G., and Chau, K.W., 2002. Habitual snoring and sleep bruxism in a pediatric outpatient population in Hong Kong. Singapore medical journal, 43(11), pp.554-556.

14. Carra, M.C., Huynh, N.T., El-Khatib, H., Remise, C., and Lavigne, G.J., 2013. Sleep bruxism, snoring, and headaches in adolescents: short-term effects of a mandibular advancement appliance. Sleep medicine, 14(7), pp.656-661.

15. Google Books. 2020. The 8-Hour Sleep Paradox. [online] Available at: [Accessed 28 May 2020].

16. Guaita, M., and Högl, B., 2016. Current treatments of bruxism. Current treatment options in neurology, 18(2), p.10.

17. NHS.uk. 2020. Teeth Grinding (Bruxism). [online] Available at: [Accessed 28 May 2020].

18. Le, M., Papia, E., and Larsson, C., 2015. The clinical success of tooth‐and implant‐supported zirconia‐based fixed dental prostheses. A systematic review. Journal of oral rehabilitation, 42(6), pp.467-480.

19. Manfredini, D., Landi, N., Fantoni, F., Segu, M., and Bosco, M., 2005. Anxiety symptoms in clinically diagnosed bruxers. Journal of oral rehabilitation, 32(8), pp.584-588.

20. Michelotti, A., de Wijer, A., Steenks, M., and Farella, M., 2005. Home‐exercise regimes for the management of non‐specific temporomandibular disorders. Journal of oral rehabilitation, 32(11), pp.779-785.

See: Prevent Menstrual Migraines & Hormonal Headaches

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