Do you have frequent sore cheeks and temples? Some people experience cheekbone pain and tension in their facial regions after waking up. Sleep is supposed to rejuvenate your mind and body after a long day of work or school. Unfortunately, some people wake up with even more tension and pain. Headaches, dizziness, earaches, and jaw pain experienced immediately after waking are often closely associated with bruxism, or habitual teeth grinding, which usually occurs while you’re sleeping.
Bruxism varies in severity, depending on each patient and the underlying cause of the condition, and proper diagnosis is paramount for effective treatment. Bruxers often experience sore and achy face and jaw muscles when they wake up in the morning.
What is Bruxism?
Cheekbone pain is often related to grinding your teeth. Tooth grinding is a phenomenon that typically occurs at night, like snoring, but can also occur during the day. People experiencing it in the daytime may find themselves clenching their teeth for no apparent reason. These headaches have been attributed to stress and often are called tension headaches. Patients find that their jaw muscles are tense along with the other muscles in their bodies. The clenching muscles attach at your cheekbones. When the muscles overwork, they can make the cheeks and temples sore.
It is difficult to diagnose yourself with bruxism, especially if you exhibit it while sleeping. If you sleep with a loved one, then he or she may hear the noise of teeth grinding, and can alert you to the condition before serious damage occurs.
Symptoms of Bruxism
Though you will need a professional assessment to properly diagnose bruxism, there are a few warning signs that could indicate you grind your teeth. For example, the symptoms include:
- Small chips or cracks in the teeth
- Jaw pain
- Cheekbone pain
- Back and head pain
- Tooth pain
- Hot or cold sensitive teeth
- Tooth erosion or heavy wear
- Limited jaw movement
- Dental sensitivity
- Sore cheeks and temples
Bruxism causes cheeks and temples to be sore and inflammed
TMJs, or temporomandibular joints, are located at the temporal bones in front of each ear, and connect your lower jaw to your skull. The joints allow your jaw to move up-and-down and side-to-side when you eat and speak.
Habitually clenching your teeth places unnecessary tension on the TMJs, causing the surrounding muscles to tense up and swell. To put it in perspective, think of your calf muscles during swimming. The calf muscles (located below your knees, on the back side) will sometimes tense up and cramp after a long day of swimming. They do this because the muscles were overworked when propelling your body through the water.
Similarly, the excessive grinding of bruxism or clenching your teeth will over work the muscles that move your jaw, and can cause the neck, cheekbones, temples, and the joints to have pain. This condition, knows as TMJ disorder, will be discussed further in the section below.
TMJ disorder, commonly referred to as TMD, can be one of many different conditions that cause damage to your jaw’s joints. The distress can aggravate your jaw’s nerve and lead to chronic headaches, earaches, neck and back pain, and difficulty opening and closing your mouth. Besides excessive stress and bite imbalances, like crooked teeth, bruxism is one of the most prominent instigators and symptoms of TMJ disorder.
Detrimental Effects of Chronic Bruxism
If bruxism is left untreated, the constant grinding could lead to severe complications beyond sore cheeks and temples. The friction can cause dental damages such as tooth sensitivity, wear, cracks, and broken teeth. The damage can expose your teeth’s vulnerable tissues to oral bacteria, increasing your risk of developing internal tooth infections (tooth decay).
Causes of Bruxism
Although doctors do not completely understand what causes bruxism, they often link it with psychological and physical instances. Stress and anxiety can cause the muscles in your body to remain tense, including those in your face and jaw. Additionally, teeth misalignment can make your bite uncomfortable when at rest, and your teeth can grind together as your jaw shifts to find a more comfortable position.
In some instances, bruxism can even be related to certain sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea. In fact, one in four individuals diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea also grind their teeth – and this happens more often in male patients.
Treatment for sore cheeks or sore temples
Because of the diversity of its possible causes, bruxism treatment is different for everyone, and relies on an accurate diagnosis to determine its source. If you experience soreness due to involuntary grinding and clenching, then Dr. Fondriest can custom-design a night guard to help you find relief and protect your teeth by preventing them from rubbing together while you sleep.
Custom oral appliances work extremely well in most cases. However, patients who do not find sufficient relief from jaw pain from this type of device may explore other treatments, including:
Physical therapy can help decrease the buildup of lactic acid in the muscles related to clenching and grinding. Focus is also directed to the temporal muscles on the sides of the head.
Orthodontics to fix sore cheeks and temples
If your bruxism is due to crooked, overlapped, crowded, or gapped teeth, Dr. Fondriest may recommend orthodontic treatment. Traditional braces or clear aligner trays can move the teeth into their proper positions and correct your bite. If this option is suggested for you, we will refer you to a trusted orthodontist.
If missing teeth are the cause of your issues, then replacing them can help restore your bite. Dental bridges and dentures can achieve this. However, dental implants are an excellent way to restore your bite and preserve your oral health.
If you already have heavy wear or fractured teeth due to bruxism, dental crowns can restore your teeth. This can reduce the urge to grind or clench the teeth. If you grind aggressively, most dentists recommend a custom guard to protect your remaining teeth.
Corrective jaw surgery
In severe cases, corrective jaw surgery may be the only viable long-term option for you. Patients who require this procedure will be referred to an experienced oral surgeon in the area.
Other types of headaches that cause sore cheeks and temples
Many problems can cause a facial headache. Migraine headaches have the common symptoms of vomiting, nausea, and sensitivity to light. Chemicals released from nerves in the brain are thought to cause swelling of the blood vessels of the lining of the brain. It is best to seek medical advice for treatment.
Sinus infections can cause pain and pressure in the temples and head. Often a runny nose accompanies a sinus infection. Nasal sprays and antibiotics have been shown to help.
Learn more about how to deal with sore cheeks and temples
Our goal is have you fully recover from TMJ troubles. Dr. Fondriest combines his impressive array of experience with modern technology and caring, compassionate, and knowledgeable staff, and we proudly serve the Chicago metropolitan area including the North Shore and Northwest suburbs.To schedule your next consultation, call our office today at (847) 234-0517.