How Teeth Grinding (Bruxism) Causes Headaches

“Do you always have headaches early in the day? Do you wake up in the mornings with pain radiating down your face? Or maybe you feel exhausted from poor sleep. Any of these mysterious symptoms could point to teeth grinding or clenching (bruxism)” [1]

“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” [2], so
book an online or in-person consultation with a Pain Doctor as soon as possible, & once they have given you an accurate diagnosis, they will devise a Personalised Treatment Plan which you can get started on right away

The Low-Down on Bruxism

In a nutshell: bruxism refers to grinding, clenching, or gnashing the teeth. Generally speaking, these events happen subconsciously, either during waking hours, or whilst asleep (the latter are referred to as: awake bruxism and sleep bruxism, respectively) [1].
The root causes of bruxism include:

• Certain medications
• Sleep disorders
• Anxiety, and
• Stress [1]

Putting a Spotlight on the Two Types of Bruxism

• Awake Bruxism: if you brux (clench or grind) during waking hours, it could be because you are feeling angry, stressed or anxious. Moreover, if you’re trying really hard to focus on something, then you may clench your jaw
• Sleep Bruxism: as Pain Doctors often explain, if you clench or grind your teeth whilst you sleep, it can be more harmful than bruxing during waking hours. – This is due to the fact that you don’t realise you’re doing it [1]

So What Are the Symptoms & Causes of Bruxism?

Regular teeth grinders could develop symptoms such as:
• Headaches (particularly in the morning)
• Facial pain (particularly in the morning)
• Sore jaw muscles
• Difficulty opening and closing the mouth
• Earache
• Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
• Pain whilst eating

Did You Know?

“Teeth grinding (bruxism) is quite common, affecting about 22–30% of adults during wakefulness, & around 8–16% during sleep. It’s even more common in children” [2]

Can Anyone Develop Bruxism?

As a Pain Consultant regular explains to their patients: anyone can develop bruxism, however, research shows that it most common during childhood, adolescence and young adulthood.

Everyone grinds their teeth every now and again, particularly when they’re under a lot of stress. However, the problem is, when someone does it a lot, it can place an extra strain on the teeth and jaws, thus leading to:

• Headaches
• Jaw pain
• Dental damage, and
• Other problems [1]

How Does Teeth Grinding Cause Headaches?

“According to one study, around 15–74% of people with OSA may develop morning headaches from grinding their teeth” [2]

Whenever we grind our teeth, we are exert pressure on muscles, tissues, and other parts of our jaw. This creates extreme tension which then radiates out to the head and neck, thus generating sore muscles and headaches.

In many cases, the sleep disorder OSA (obstructive sleep apnea), exists side-by-side with sleep bruxism. To that end, Pain Specialists regard OSA is a risk factor for bruxism.

Types of Headaches Caused By Teeth Grinding

Specific types of headaches which appear to be common with teeth grinders, include:

• Migraine Headaches: these generate continual episodes of moderate to severe pulsating and throbbing pain on one side of the head
• Tension Headaches: classed as one of the most common forms of headache, these generate mild to moderate pain, as well as a feeling of pressure or tightness around the head
• Secondary Headaches: these come about from an underlying condition (for example: a neck or head injury)
• Morning Headaches: Pain Doctors frequently connect these to obstructive sleep apnea and other sleep disorders that normally come about after waking up [2]


[1]. Cleveland Clinic (2023). “Bruxism (Teeth Grinding).”

[2]. Surles, T. (2023). “Can Teeth Grinding (Bruxism) Cause Headaches?” Healthline.