Teeth Grinding & Jaw Clenching

Teeth Grinding & Jaw Clenching

If you often wake up in the morning with a sore jaw, toothache, or headache, you may be suffering from a common ailment called Bruxism.  Bruxism, put simply, is the grinding and clenching of the teeth and/or jaw.  It is estimated that up to 10% of adults and 15% of children grind their teeth at night.  Teeth grinding and jaw clenching can not only be painful, but it can also cause a lot of damage to your teeth and jaw.  Knowing the symptoms, causes, and treatments of Bruxism can help you identify the issue and get the help you need.


One of the hard parts about Bruxism is that most people don’t even know they are doing it because they are doing it while they sleep.  Just like snoring or sleep talking, your spouse may notice that you are grinding your teeth before you do.  If they are frequently waking up from sounds of you gnashing and grating your teeth through the night, don’t ignore their complaints.  Even if it isn’t causing you discomfort now, you could be unknowingly damaging your teeth.  Regularly grinding and clenching can cause the enamel on your teeth to be worn down and will eventually create cavities.  This will make your teeth unusually sensitive, so it is important to be aware of this symptom of Bruxism.  Other symptoms include frequent headaches, especially in the morning when you wake up, a sore jaw, and chipped or cracked teeth.


There are many reasons you could be suffering from Bruxism.  One of the main causes of this ailment is worry and anxiety.  If you find yourself constantly stressed throughout the day, your body may subconsciously react to the stress while you sleep, and you may unintentionally clench and grind your teeth.  Dentists across the country have noted the rise in Bruxism cases since COVID-19 which only reinforces the link between worry and anxiety and teeth grinding and jaw clenching.

Teeth grinding can sometimes be more likely to occur if you struggle with other sleep disturbances such as snoring, sleep talking, or sleep apnea.  Consuming alcohol or using tobacco, especially right before bed, has also been known to cause Bruxism.  Finally, teeth grinding and jaw clenching can be a side effect of some medications.   


If you think you may be suffering from Bruxism, the good news is there are treatments available.  The first thing we would advise you to do is to make an appointment with us at Cornerstone Family Dentistry so we can examine your mouth and jaw and help you identify the problem and find the right solution.  After an examination, Dr. Wilson may suggest you get a night guard which is a device you wear in your mouth at night that protects your teeth and jaw.  If your jaw pain is severe, she may refer you to a specialist to get more assistance.

In addition to visiting a dentist, there are things you can try at home to prevent you from grinding your teeth.  If stress is the cause, some people have found relief by practicing meditation and mindfulness exercises right before bed.  Limiting your alcohol and tobacco intake before bed can also help.

Whatever the reason, if you are experiencing pain in your teeth or jaw, don’t ignore it.  This discomfort could be a sign of something more serious like tooth decay, cracked or chipped teeth, or TMJ disorder.  Make an appointment with us today and we will help you identify and treat the problem.