If you grind your teeth, either in your sleep or while awake, you’re more likely to get headaches. Treating the underlying cause should reduce your symptoms.

Teeth grinding (bruxism) is quite common, affecting about 22–30% of adults during wakefulness and around 8–16% during sleep. It’s even more common in children.

Several complications are linked to bruxism, including:

  • tooth wear
  • tooth hypersensitivity
  • temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain or jaw pain
  • poor sleep

Another complication is headaches.

When you grind your teeth, you’re putting pressure on muscles, tissues, and other parts of your jaw. This tension then spreads to the head and neck, causing headaches and sore muscles.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a sleep disorder, commonly co-exists with sleep bruxism. Doctors see it as a risk factor for this condition.

According to one study, around 15–74% of people with OSA may develop morning headaches from grinding their teeth.

What kinds of headaches can teeth grinding cause?

Certain headaches seem to be more common with teeth grinding, including:

As well as painful pulsing or throbbing sensations in the head, teeth grinding headaches may cause other symptoms, like:

Bruxism may also cause dental and jaw pain. Teeth grinding and clenching may lead to wear and tear on your teeth, leaving cracks on the outer layer of the tooth. Without treatment or intervention, the condition might cause your teeth to loosen or even fall out.

People with bruxism might also develop TMJ disorders. These affect the muscles responsible for chewing and the joints that connect the lower jaw to the skull.

Symptoms of TMJ disorders can include:

  • difficulty or discomfort when chewing or biting
  • a clicking, popping, or grating sound when opening or closing the mouth
  • dull aching in the face
  • earache
  • headache
  • jaw tenderness or pain
  • jaw locking
  • difficulty opening or closing the mouth

How long teeth grinding headaches last depends on the type of headache you have. For example, if you have a migraine headache, you may have pain or discomfort for a few hours up to several days.

If you’re dealing with teeth grinding, here are some ways to relieve teeth grinding headaches:

  • Get regular dental checkups.
  • Try stress-relieving techniques, such as yoga, meditation, or counseling.
  • Set reminders to keep your teeth apart if you grind your teeth while you’re awake.
  • Try a mouthguard to separate your teeth while you sleep.
  • Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake.
  • If you smoke, try to quit. This can be difficult, but a doctor can help you create a cessation plan that works for you.

If a dentist discovers signs of bruxism, they may suggest certain treatments, such as dental crowns or other tooth repair solutions.

If there’s an underlying cause of teeth grinding, such as OSA or another medical condition, your dentist may refer you to another healthcare professional for additional treatment.

Learn more about treating bruxism.

It’s important to seek medical attention if you notice signs or symptoms of bruxism. Severe sleep bruxism might cause tooth damage in addition to your headaches.

You may want to share your concerns with your dentist to find the best treatment options for teeth grinding.

Teeth grinding (bruxism) is a common condition that might cause mild to severe headaches. Certain health conditions, such as OSA and TMJ disorders, are often tied to bruxism headaches.

Besides headaches, teeth grinding may cause painful and uncomfortable symptoms, like jaw pain, earaches, and increased light or sound sensitivity.

If you think you’re experiencing bruxism headaches, it’s a good idea to speak with a doctor to discuss your treatment options.