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Clenching Your Teeth Can Hurt Even After You Stop

Posted on 10/10/2016 by Jeffery Gerhardt
A man suffering from sensitive teeth.
Clenching your teeth is often an unconscious occurrence. You may do it during the day while you are under stress or nervous. It can also happen at night and often accompanies tooth grinding.

If you clench during the day, you may experience pain in your jaw that dissipates when you stop. Over time, clenching can lead to pain, even after you release the pressure.

Tooth Sensitivity

Constant pressure on your teeth can cause wear on the chewing surfaces of your teeth, known as occlusal wear. You may also experience wear near your gums. Wearing away the enamel of your teeth exposes the dentin below, which houses open canals that lead directly to the nerves. This leads to tooth sensitivity, particularly to extreme heat and cold.

Sprained Ligament

Clenching puts extreme pressure on the ligament located near the bone to which the teeth are anchored. It acts as a kind of "shock absorber," and too much pressure can sprain it. Because you can't avoid chewing, the ligament can take a long time to heal. The nerves connected to it can become sensitized after a time, leading to an increase in pain.


The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the hinge at which your upper and lower jaws meet. Too much pressure on this joint can lead to temporomandibular disorder (TMD). The joint and muscles surrounding it become tight and can become sore. The muscles attached may become weak and tender. All of these issues can lead to lingering pain.

Other symptoms include difficulty opening the mouth, difficulty chewing, headaches (some of the surrounding muscles are located near the temples) and earaches (the joint is just below the ears).

If you clench your teeth, or notice any signs of clenching, contact our office. Together, you can discuss your options to stop the clenching and stop the pain.

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