Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, often happens when you are sleeping. However, it may also happen when you are awake. In this condition, some may grind their teeth or clench their jaw subconsciously when they are concentrating or feeling stressed. Thus, there is sleep bruxism as well as awake bruxism.

Teeth grinding may occur in children and adults. Several factors trigger this condition. In as much as there are causes, there can also be ways to stop grinding your teeth.

Are you one of those who grind their teeth at night?

Symptoms of sleep bruxism

Sleep bruxism is the more common type of teeth grinding. This is a sleep-related movement disorder where individuals clench or grind their teeth during their sleep. In most cases, they are more likely to be inclined to sleep disorders like sleep apnea.

To know if you or the person you share the bed with experiences teeth grinding, here are some signs that you may consider:

  • Fractured, chipped, or loose teeth and other dental issues;
  • A dull headache coupled with sore jaws or in some cases ear pain;
  • Toothache with stiffness in the face, especially when you wake up;
  • Sharp pain in the jaw muscles while biting and chewing;
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold food and drinks; and
  • Sensitivity to extreme weather conditions.

In most cases, you may have sleep bruxism but unaware of it until complications develop. This is why you should know the signs and symptoms of bruxism. It is also advisable to seek medical or dental help from bruxism experts.

Causes of teeth grinding

There is no clear view as to what could be the exact cause of teeth grinding. However, this condition is usually linked to the following factors:

Stress and anxiety:

Many people may not be aware of it but grinding your teeth is often caused by stress and anxiety. And teeth grinding often happens during sleep. Other psychological and emotional issues may also lead to sleep bruxism.


Teeth grinding can sometimes be an adverse effect of some medications. Patients who take antidepressants sometimes tend to grind their teeth. These antidepressants, known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) include paroxetine, fluoxetine, and sertraline.

Sleep disorders:

Snoring and sleep apnea are sleep disorders that may be considered triggers to teeth grinding. Sleep apnoea is a sleep disorder that interrupts the regular pattern of breathing while you sleep. If you experience this, it is more likely to grind your teeth while you sleep.

Other sleep disorders that may trigger sleep bruxism:

  • Somniloquy or asleep talking;
  • Having violent behavior when asleep like as kicking out or punching;
  • Sleep paralysis or the temporary inability to move while waking up; and
  • Having hallucinations where you see or hear things while you are semi-conscious

Others may also find themselves grinding their teeth when there are temperature fluctuations. Some may find it more difficult to bite and eat.


The lifestyle of a person can also be a contributory factor that leads to teeth grinding. These may include drinking alcohol, smoking, using recreational drugs, or having lots of caffeinated drinks.

The range of probable causes of bruxism includes physical and psychological aspects. This means that most treatments will often need to address both physical and psychological attributes of bruxism.

While your dentist can take care of the possible physical causes such as a loose tooth or an overly-high filling, a psychological expert can help address issues like anxiety or stress. Also, a doctor may help alleviate the pain and medical issues that may lead to teeth grinding.

Teeth Grinding in Children

Teeth grinding do not just occur to adults. Children also tend to grind their teeth. This usually happens when their baby teeth emerge or when their permanent teeth come in. But in most cases, children lose this habit after their adult top and bottom teeth have fully come.

Just like how teeth grinding is a mystery to adults, nobody exactly knows why this happens to children. However, oral and medical conditions may be considered. Health issues and emotional conditions are most like some factors that may lead to sleep bruxism. Although grinding of the baby teeth rarely results in problems, it can cause pain in the face, neck, and jaw muscles. A child may also have a headache or a tingling pain in the ear and on the temples.

What can I do to stop grinding my teeth at night?

Treatment for teeth grinding varies on the factors that triggered it. It is important to consult a dentist or a doctor to evaluate the condition of your teeth grinding.  A dental or medical expert can conduct some tests to come up and develop a comprehensive treatment plan that is specialized for your needs.

Use of Mouthguards:

One of the best ways to protect your teeth is to wear an occlusal appliance like a mouthguard or nightguard. This dental appliance can help prevent tooth wear and fracture.

Reductive coroplast:

This dental procedure may be used to reshape your teeth to ensure that the biting surface of your top and bottom teeth do not gnash against each other. This procedure may also be effective if your teeth are crowded, misaligned, or crooked.


A recent study showed that injecting botulinum toxin or Botox may reduce jaw pain and the frequency of teeth grinding. However, it is best to discuss the benefits and risks of this procedure with your doctor before using this treatment for bruxism.

Stress Reduction Techniques:

Stress-reduction techniques may help in some cases of teeth grinding.  This strategy can also benefit a person’s overall health. When you grind your teeth, you may want to consider yoga, meditation, talk therapy, and feel-good exercises.

Our takeaway

Sleep bruxism is a common condition resulting from various viable triggers. However, with the right treatment and with early detection, complications and other risks may be prevented.

Visit your dentist and doctor for a good source of diagnosis and treatment plan today!

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