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Jaw, Face and Headache Pain

When your jaw, face or head hurts, it’s hard to function. It’s instinct to head to the medicine cabinet, grab an over-the-counter pain medication and power through hoping the situation is temporary. 


But when the pain is reoccurring, it’s important to reach out to a medical professional, especially your dentist. That’s because you may be suffering from jaw clenching and/or teeth grinding.

What is Bruxism? 
Bruxism is a medical term for a condition associated with knowingly or unknowingly grinding, gnashing or clenching your teeth. This can impact children and adults and occurs when awake or sleeping. Treatment may not be required for mild bruxism, but it’s important to know the symptoms and consult with your doctor and/or dentist about diagnosis and potential treatments. 

What Are Common Bruxism Symptoms?
Suffering from jaw, face or head pain related to awake or sleep bruxism can have the following symptoms:


  • A locked jaw unable to completely open or close 

  • Cheek damage from chewing 

  • Chronic headaches

  • Clenching and grinding teeth

  • Dull headache stemming from your temples

  • Earache-like pain actually unrelated to your ear

  • Flattened, fractured, chipped or loose teeth

  • Increased tooth sensitivity or pain 

  • Jaw, face or neck pain/soreness

  • Sleep disruption

  • Teeth grinding or clenching sounds potentially loud enough to wake your sleep partner

  • Tired or tight jaw muscles

  • Worn tooth enamel that exposes deeper layers of your tooth

What Effects Can Bruxism Have on a Child or Adult?
Especially in cases of sleep bruxism, a person can be completely unaware of the condition until complications develop. Know the signs and symptoms of bruxism and to seek dental care to ensure short- or long-term effects don’t wreak havoc on a person’s oral  health and well-bring.

Short-term effects of bruxism include:

  • Disturbing your sleep partner’s rest due to noise 

  • Earaches, tinnitus and sinus pain

  • Facial myalgia 

  • Fractured cusps and broken fillings 

  • Headaches and migraines  

  • Limitations opening your mouth 

  • Poor sleep quality 

  • Receding and/or inflamed gums

  • Stiff neck/shoulders

  • Tongue scalloping

  • Tooth mobility and wear

  • Sensitive teeth

Long-term effects of bruxism include:

  • Excessive facial muscle tone

  • Jaw joint clicking or popping

  • Prolonged untreated migraines

  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD) 

  • Degenerative damage to TMJ (arthritis)

  • Tooth wear and tooth loss

Did You Know?

Experts estimate two to three out of every 10 children grind or clench their teeth. Although most outgrow it over time, early diagnosis and appropriate treatment can significantly improve their quality of life.

Next Steps

Bruxism diagnosis is key to finding the right treatment to alleviate the pain you may be experiencing due to knowingly or unknowingly clenching your jaw and/or grinding your teeth. If you, your child or someone you know exhibits any symptoms of teeth grinding and clenching, please contact our office to learn more and consider setting up a consultation. 

Video Spotlights: Jaw Pain


Dr. V got me in for a same day emergency even though I was not a patient there prior to that. They saved me from having to endure a business trip while having a lot of pain.


I have continued to go there for routine care and am always impressed with everyone I come into contact with. They truly care about my health and dental care and go out of their way to be sure everything is taken care of!

- Beth A Leipold 

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