Bruxism: Are You Harming Your Teeth While You Sleep?
No matter how diligently you care for your teeth during the day, you might be harming them
overnight or in other situations without even realizing you are doing it. Many people experience
teeth grinding and jaw clenching, or a condition known as bruxism, while they sleep or in
Over time, these actions can wear on your mouth and cause permanent damage if they are not
addressed. This post will help you identify if you suffer from bruxism, learn more about what
triggers it, and provide some short-term and long-term treatment options.
Causes and Symptoms of Bruxism
The most common reasons for teeth grinding and jaw clenching are stress and anxiety. This can
occur during the day or while you are sleeping. Even if you are wide awake, you might not even
realize that you are doing it.
Bruxism is one of many ways that our body physically manifests stress even if our minds aren’t
aware of it. The next time you are in a high-stress situation, pay attention to what’s happening in
your mouth. Are you clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth around? If you’re one of 8 percent
of Americans who suffer from bruxism, then you probably are.
Other risk factors for bruxism include substance abuse (drugs, alcohol, caffeine), sleep apnea,
and bite and alignment issues.
In several studies by the American Dental Association, several studies released signs and
symptoms to be aware of. One telltale way to know if you suffer from bruxism is waking up with
a sore mouth or a tight jaw. You might also notice that your teeth begin to wear down in odd
patterns over time. These changes might not be obvious at first since many people grind their
molars and back teeth that are not always very visible.
If you share a bed with someone, that person may also be able to determine whether you are
grinding your teeth at night. The sound might not be loud enough to wake you up, but it could be
loud enough for your partner to notice.
Long-term jaw clenching can lead to earaches and headaches. You might think that you have an
ear infection or a migraine, but the cause is actually the jaw because of how closely it’s related to
the other parts of your face.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Bruxism
The best way to confirm whether or not you suffer from bruxism is to mention your symptoms
to your dentist at your next appointment. Your dentist can review the wear patterns on your teeth
and examine your jaw to determine whether you’ve been grinding or clenching without realizing
From there, your dentist will likely prescribe a mouth guard, which will prevent your teeth from
touching while you sleep and give you something to bite into if you clench your jaw. It won’t take
long before you are waking up pain-free and more refreshed as a result of better sleep.
The mouth guard will probably take some getting used to, but it’s important that you stick with it
and continue wearing it. Your mouth will adjust over time and you’ll soon be wondering how you
ever slept without one.
While this approach will stop the symptoms of bruxism, it is not a cure for the underlying issues
that are causing it in the first place.
To address those deeper issues, your dentist may recommend a visit to a sleep specialist, who
can more thoroughly test for issues like sleep apnea. If bruxism is caused by stress or anxiety,
working with a therapist might help to resolve those issues and create long-term change.
How to Get the Help You Need
If you’ve been waking up with an unusual feeling in your mouth or jaw, you might be suffering
Our team at 1st Family Dental is well versed in the symptoms and warning signs and can help
you determine if you’ve been grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw while you sleep. We’ll
work with you to develop a customized treatment plan based on your specific symptoms and