Can Teeth Clenching Cause Trigeminal Neuralgia?


Asked by sharon

Can Teeth Clenching Cause Trigeminal Neuralgia?

Hi, I wondered if you could possibly help me. I am suffering from severe left side face neck and head pain that starts by throbbing then spasms with stabbing shock-like pain that travels into lower jaw teeth and up into my ear, eye, at times nose, and to the back of my head and down my neck. The pain is almost constant and I've suffered with it a month now.

My dentist gave me a mouth guard, saying that I clench my teeth in my sleep, with the guard the pain will go away but I've used for a week without any results. My doctor disagrees with the dentist and suspects it to be trigeminal neuralgia. He has given me Tegretol as a pain relief which lessons it a bit, but i feel terribly tired and the pain is still there.

What I would love to know is can the mouth guard cure my problem? Do I need to wear it if it is trigeminal neuralgia? Or perhaps the doctor is wrong? Thank you for any consideration and help on this subject.

Kind regards from Sharon


Fascinating question. Both your dentist and your doctor are probably right.

Trigeminal neuralgia is a type of nerve pain generated from the trigeminal nerve, a cranial nerve that comes directly from the brain stem. The "shock-like" pains are typical of nerve pain. Sometimes burning, tingling and numbness are also associated with nerve pain. Since your doctor, knows your full history and did an exam (I hope) he/she is probably right about the diagnosis of trigeminal neuralgia.

So, how can your dentist be right also. Usually, trigeminal neuralgia needs a trigger. A trigger can be brushing your teeth, smiling, or clenching your jaw. The jaw clenching is probably triggering your painful condition. You should try the night guard at least 6 weeks to give your nerve, muscles, and joints some time to calm down. Same goes for medications. These things take time for the trial.

I would not try both night guard and medication during the same time. You need to know which treatment works best. One treatment trial at a time is my policy.

Your doctor and dentist should coordinate their efforts like a team.

Dr. Christina Lasich, MD

You should know: The answer above provides general health information that is not intended to replace medical advice or treatment recommendations from a qualified healthcare professional.