Waking Up with Headaches? You Might Need a Mouthguard

When your jaw or teeth aren’t aligned, you can experience tense muscles in your jaw, mouth, and neck. The condition can affect your bite and cause clenching and/or grinding, called bruxism, at night. The stress of tensing your muscles or grinding your teeth for an extended period of time can result in a headache when you awaken. While bruxism affects about 13% of adults and up to 40% of children, more than 80% of people with sleep bruxism don’t know they have it.

Before you attribute your headaches to jaw misalignment, it’s important to rule out the presence of an underlying health condition causing your headaches. Tension headaches are the most common type of headache related to bruxism. Chronic undiagnosed tension headaches may be related to bruxism if you notice that you’re missing the points on your canine teeth. These points are flattened or removed by constant teeth grinding. 

The dental specialists at Smile Design Manhattan in New York City’s Midtown West can help you determine the cause of chronic tension headaches. If bruxism is to blame, we can provide you with a custom-fitted mouthguard to reduce headaches and protect you from damaging your teeth and dental work while you sleep. This simple solution can result in better sleep and an improved quality of life. 

Read on to find out more about mouthguards and how they can resolve chronic headaches related to teeth grinding. 

What is a custom-made mouthguard?

A mouthguard is a plastic oral appliance that’s fitted over the top and bottom of your teeth. Custom-made mouthguards provide the best protection because they’re created from a dental mold of your mouth. Since it’s made to fit the contours of your teeth and mouth, a custom-made mouthguard fits comfortably and snugly while you sleep. These types of mouthguards are typically the most durable and long-lasting. 

How does a mouthguard work?

While a mouthguard won’t prevent the urge to grind your teeth while you sleep, it can protect your teeth from damage. When appropriately fitted, the appliance acts as a barrier between your top and bottom teeth and cushions your jaw muscles when you clench your jaw. In addition to reducing the pain caused by night jaw clenching and grinding, a mouthguard can prevent deterioration of the enamel on your teeth and dental work. 

How would I sleep with a mouthguard?

While the promise of headache relief may seem appealing, many people worry about comfortably sleeping with a mouthguard. While you may not be completely comfortable using it at first, The American Sleep Association recommends allowing between four to six weeks for a mouthguard to become part of your bedtime routine. Putting it in just before you’re ready to sleep will make it easier to associate using the appliance with bedtime. With constant use, the benefit of headache relief will likely override any discomfort. 


Find out more about mouthguards and whether they’re the right solution for your chronic headaches. Schedule an appointment online or call our office for a consultation.

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