Emergency Dentist: Knowing When to Call

« Back to Home

Do You Grind Your Teeth When You Sleep?

Posted on

Do you grind your teeth in your sleep? If you do, you could be damaging your oral health. Read on to find out why you grind your teeth and how to stop.

What causes teeth grinding?

Teeth grinding or 'bruxism' to give the habit its proper name, has many causes which vary between individuals. The majority of bruxism cases are linked to feelings of depression, stress or anxiety. The habit gets worse when the sufferer is experiencing distress, upset or increased stress in their lives. Bruxism is also a recognised side-effect of certain types of medication including anti-depressants.

Sufferers of sleep disorders are particularly liable to bruxism. When sleep is disturbed due to snoring, talking in your sleep or breathing disruption, bruxism commonly occurs. Bruxism can also be a symptom of Parkinson's or Huntingdon's disease.

What are the effects of bruxism?

Bruxism left untreated can cause mayhem. The continual movement of the upper teeth across the lower ones breaks fillings, wears down enamel, and sometimes even cracks the teeth. Commonly, the incisor tips begin to chip away. You may develop noticeably bigger jaw muscles, and your jaw joint might begin to click or even lock.

Bruxism can leave you suffering pain on jaw movement and tightness when you open your mouth. You could find that you have a headache when you wake in the morning. Your teeth may become more sensitive to heat and cold, and you may experience pain when chewing your food. Earache and shoulder pain are also common side effects.


Your dentist will be able to help you if you suffer from bruxism. You will be fitted with a custom-made plastic night-guard to be worn in your mouth at night while you're in bed. This is an effective treatment tool that will also help to protect your teeth from the effects of continual grinding. The guard fits between your upper and lower teeth to shield them from the grinding effect, and cushion your jaw.

As well as protecting your teeth the guard relieves the pressure on your jaw muscles and joint which in turn will help to reduce the discomfort this causes. Your partner will be relieved to hear that the guard also reduces the noise caused by continual teeth grinding during the night.

In addition to the physical treatment of bruxism it will be helpful to identify the causes of your stress and to address them. Your dentist will be able to give you advice on how to tackle these issues, and may be able to change any medication you are taking that could be making your teeth grinding worse.

Grinding your teeth while you sleep can cause damage to your teeth as well as considerable pain and discomfort while you're awake. If you think you might be suffering from bruxism, contact clinics like Fairfield Dental Healthcare Clinic for advice.