Waking Up With Headaches? You Might Need a Mouth Guard

If you’re experiencing pesky migraines, particularly right after you wake up, you may be grinding your teeth without even knowing it. Also called bruxism, reports state that about 8% of the population grinds their teeth at night, with unreported numbers believed to be much higher.

While grinding, gnashing, and clenching your teeth generally happens while you sleep, it can also occur during the day. You may not even be aware that you’re doing it during your waking hours, as it usually occurs in moments of stress, anxiety, frustration, anger, or simply during moments of deep concentration.

Bruxism can be quite damaging to your teeth, so early diagnosis and intervention are incredibly helpful. But don’t worry -- here at the Mequon, Wisconsin, office of Dr. Michael Kim, we give you simple and effective solutions for identifying and treating bruxism .

Symptoms of grinding your teeth

In addition to headaches, bruxism also comes with a host of other symptoms that affect your teeth and jaw, including:

You can also experience TMJ syndrome, or pain in the joint that connects the lower jaw to the skull, due to its proximity to your teeth. Earaches may also develop for this same reason. 

Risk factors for teeth grinding

There are several risk factors for bruxism, including the following:

Emotional distress

Teeth grinding is often a result of intense emotional distress, including feelings of stress, anxiety, anger, and frustration. You may also begin grinding your teeth as a habit while focusing intensely, like while studying.


It’s found that bruxism tends to occur in those with a family history of teeth grinding. So having family members with bruxism may be a risk factor.

Medications and substances

Some psychiatric medications, like anti-depressants, do have bruxism as a side effect. It’s also found that smoking tobacco, drinking excessive alcohol or caffeine, or using recreational drugs can also contribute to teeth grinding.  

Other disorders

Studies have also found that other disorders, particularly neurological ones like Parkinson’s or Huntington’s disease, may also cause bruxism. Other conditions that can contribute to it include epilepsy, sleep apnea, eating disorders, and ADHD, among others.   


Bruxism is also common in children younger than the age of 17. Though it tends to subside on its own in some cases, an estimated 38% of parents report that their children still grind their teeth.

Treatment for teeth grinding 

While there’s no cure for bruxism, treatment comes in the form of treating the underlying cause and using certain precautions to prevent further damage to your teeth. The most common form of prevention is wearing a night guard

Night guards keep you from grinding your teeth and act as a barrier against damage caused by tooth on tooth grinding. 

At our office, Dr. Kim performs a comprehensive examination of your teeth, and he’ll even work with your primary care provider to develop a plan for treating your bruxism. If he determines that you need a night guard, Dr. Kim takes a mold of your teeth to create a custom fitting. 

Because early detection and prevention are incredibly important to saving your teeth and preventing further damage, you’ll want to treat this problem as soon as you can. Call us to schedule an appointment today.

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