Waking Up With Headaches? You Might Need a Night Guard
Waking up with a headache is a terrible way to start your day. While you might be dehydrated, it’s also possible that your morning headaches — which can last well into your day — could stem from problems in your jaw.
Bruxism — the clinical term for teeth grinding — and other temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems are common causes of headaches and migraines. In fact, around 8% of American adults grind their teeth at night.
Here at Santa Clarita Advanced Dentistry, in Valencia, California, our team of expert dentists can identify signs of bruxism and TMJ disorders, and determine if these jaw issues are the reason you frequently wake up with headaches.
How does bruxism cause headaches?
You might be curious about how a problem with your jaw can cause headaches — wouldn’t your jaw hurt instead? Sometimes it does, and sometimes you get headaches. Your jaw is connected to the rest of your head and neck by a network of small muscles and connective tissues.
When you grind your teeth or have a misalignment in your TMJ, it creates tension in your jaw muscles, which can cause radiant tension, spasm, and inflammation. Bruxism and TMJ problems can also trigger a neurological problem called trigeminal neuralgia.
Your trigeminal nerve is the largest nerve in your head. It has sensory and motor functions and controls almost everything on the front of your head, from your forehead to your jaw. If you have inflammation or an alignment issue in your TMJ, it can irritate your trigeminal nerve and cause facial pain and migraines.
When should I talk to my dentist about my headaches?
Everyone gets a headache now and then; it’s one of the most common modern health complaints. But if you get more than two headaches a week, your headaches are considered chronic and could be due to an underlying dental condition.
You should have a dental appointment every six months and should mention any headaches or neck or jaw pain during your checkup. If your headaches are interfering with your day-to-day life, you can schedule an appointment with your dentist at any time.
How do I know if teeth grinding is causing my headaches?
The best way to identify the root cause of your headaches is to have an exam with one of our dentists here at Santa Clarita Advanced Dentistry. They talk to you about your symptoms and provide thorough exams to look for signs of jaw problems. For example, if you grind your teeth, your molars might show signs of:
Our team also offers state-of-the-art digital X-rays so your dentist can examine your teeth and jaw, including your TMJ, in detail.
What can I do to stop my headaches?
If your headaches are due to bruxism or another TMJ problem, we can fit you with a night guard. Night guards are comfortable oral appliances that you wear while you sleep. Depending on your needs, your night guard can cushion your teeth to reduce the pressure of your bruxism or slightly adjust the position of your jaw while you sleep to minimize tension and teeth grinding.
We provide custom night guards that fit your mouth precisely. If your dentist prescribes a night guard, we take pictures and molds of your teeth. We send this information to a trusted dental lab, which makes your night guard to fit your mouth precisely.
When your mouthguard is ready, you come in, and we make sure it fits comfortably before sending you home with care instructions. Then you simply wear your night guard while you sleep. This addresses the root cause of your headaches and should provide lasting, drug-free relief from your pain.
Call us or make an appointment online today for customized dental care to alleviate your chronic headaches.