Grinding, Clenching, Headaches

The muscles that are used to close your jaw for functions like chewing are the same muscles that can cause clenching and grinding of the teeth. These muscles are the masseter, temporalis, and medial pterygoid. These same muscles, specifically the temporalis (also thought of as the temple area), can cause migraine or tension-like headaches. We provide treatment solutions to prevent these headaches and damaging forces to your teeth.

Our comprehensive dental exam includes palpation of these muscles to feel for any signs of tension, tenderness, or knots. We look inside the mouth for signs of wear and/or fracture lines on the teeth that can be caused by grinding or clenching. Sometimes the tongue can become scalloped along the border due to clenching activity. Once a diagnosis has been made regarding any clenching or grinding, we treat the cause of these habits. Patients may clench or grind their teeth, causing headaches when the jaw joint (TMJ) is trying to seat in the correct position. Teeth will become damaged and worn if they are in the way of the muscles trying to seat the joint correctly. When teeth and muscle aren’t coordinated the muscle always wins, which can result in severe tooth wear if undiagnosed. Our goals in diagnosing are to make you comfortable, and prevent wear on teeth and/or headaches in the temporalis muscle. The two treatment approaches include splint therapy with an occlusal guard and/or equilibration, which involves balancing the bite by adding material to the tooth structure or removing minor amounts of tooth structure to bring the teeth together evenly.