• Sep 27 2017

Is grinding your teeth at night something to see your dentist about?

Bruxism is the technical term used when you grind or clench your teeth. This usually occurs at night and is known as sleep bruxism, but it may also happen while awake, even if the individual is unaware of it. Sleep bruxism is often accompanied by other sleep-related issues, like snoring and sleep apnea.

Symptoms of Bruxism

Depending on the severity, bruxism may or may not require treatment. To prevent it from leading to complications, like moderate to severe dental damage, it is important to recognize the symptoms and consult with a dental care professional. Some of the more common signs and symptoms include:

  • Grinding or clenching teeth to such a degree that it is loud enough to awaken someone sleeping nearby
  • Loose, flattened, chipped or broken teeth without another apparent cause
  • Tooth enamel worn to the point that inner layers are exposed
  • Increasing degrees of tooth pain or sensitivity to hot, cold or touch
  • Tired or tight jaw muscles
  • Pain that feels like an earache but not having anything to do with the ear
  • Jaw that is locked or will not open or close completely
  • Pain or soreness in the face, neck or jaw
  • Dull aching in the head, starting near the temples
  • Cuts or sores resulting from chewing the inside of the cheek
  • Waking multiple times during the night

It is estimated that nearly a third of all children experience some degree of teeth grinding, particularly at night. The good news is that it usually goes away by adulthood. Adults can be a little trickier, so it is important to recognize the risk factors.

Risk Factors for Bruxism

The following are some of the more common contributing risk factors that may lead to the development of bruxism:

Stress – anxiety, frustration, deadlines, financial worries and anything worrying that the mind continues to process during sleep can increase stress and result in teeth grinding.

Personality type – type “A” personalities or those that tend to be aggressive, competitive or over-active can increase the risk.

Drugs and medications – certain medications or drugs, such as those prescribed for depression, can have the side effect of bruxism.

Other substances –  Smoking, drinking alcohol or caffeinated beverages and recreational drug use may also increase the risk of bruxism.

Genetics – incidence of sleep bruxism tends to run in families.

Other disorders – the list of other, possibly contributing factors is extensive and includes mental health and medical disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia, night terrors and other sleep-related disorders like sleep apnea, gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), epilepsy and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Stress was at the top of the list, because it is often the primary culprit. By minimizing stress as much as possible, this can go a long way toward alleviating symptoms of bruxism. It is not, however, something that can be ignored in the hope that it will simply go away. For persistent bruxism, consult with your dentist as soon as possible to learn about techniques and methods, including dental mouth guards, to correct this condition and prevent further and more serious damage.

Forest Hills Dentistry is dedicated to delivering the highest quality of dentistry possible. We offer the latest and most current information and services to our patients with a new state-of-the-art facility in Forest Hills, Queens. Patient comfort, individualized care and complete satisfaction is our priority.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, you are invited to use our online form by clicking here.


Categories: Mouth Guards