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5 Things: Sleep and Teeth Grinding

Sleeping is supposed to be a quiet and calm time, but for some people their jaws are busy at work all night, clenching and grinding their teeth. Not only can it be loud enough to wake up partners, but it can cause some health problems as well. If you or someone you know grinds their teeth while they sleep, here are some things you might want to know.

  1. The medical term for grinding or clenching your teeth at night is sleep bruxism. Someone who grinds their teeth is called a bruxor.
  2. Bruxism can be mild and not require any treatment, but if it's frequent and severe enough, it could cause chronic headaches, jaw disorders, or tooth damage.
  3. If you sleep alone and don't know whether or not you grind your teeth, here are the symptoms you should watch out for: teeth that are worn down or chipped, tooth sensitivity, earaches, headaches, chronic facial pain, chewed tissue on the inside of your cheek, or jaw pain or tightness.
  4. Doctors aren't sure what causes sleep bruxism, but it could be related to the changes that happen during sleep cycles. Emotional issues may also be associated, such as anxiety, stress, suppressed anger or frustration, or if the person has an aggressive, competitive, or hyper personality. Bruxism can also be a side effect of some antidepressant medications.
  5. There are several ways to treat bruxism. Stress management through counseling may help, if it's determined that emotional tension is the issue. If life is good and stress free and you're still grinding your teeth, your dentist may recommend that your wear a mouth guard at night. It's not beautiful, but it'll protect your teeth from damage.


Join The Conversation
RobKanzerLifeCoach RobKanzerLifeCoach 5 years
first time contributor - hello everybody.  i am not a health expert, i am committed however, to helping people become happier and healthier and get out of pain.   i have been doing a bunch of research on sleepguard biofeedback headband - have you heard of it?  according to the clinical trial results - this headband - worn at night (sleep time) trains a person to get out of the teeth grinding habit so they can preserve their teeth or get rid of tmj and/or migraine pain and other nasties.   ( free 21 day trial. about 75% of the people i talked with had good results.
glynislily glynislily 9 years
I grind my teeth at night. I first thought that my jaw was sore because I have TMJ. But a few times in college my jaw would hurt so bad that I should go days without eating solid food. Someone pointed out that when I sleep I make a strange grinding sound I looked up on the internet and discovered teeth grinding. I bought a guard from the store and instead of grinding I squeaked. My jaw would go through the motions and rub on the guard and cause this squeak noise. I guess I am destined for noisy sleep.
Silverlining10 Silverlining10 9 years
I'm guilty of this, but I guess I don't grind my teeth hard enough because I've never suffered from any of the symptoms. I've been grinding my teeth since I was a child, and my boyfriend says it's loud enough to wake him up and creep him out. Weird...But I definitely should get a night guard!
kia kia 9 years
I'll pass this info on to my hubby. His teef grinding is irritating but we generally associate it with stress.
emalove emalove 9 years
I am not a teeth grinder, but I DO have TMJ :(
Chikeebabe Chikeebabe 9 years
I wear a custom guard at night. I embrace the dorkiness and call it my "Bucky Buck Teeth". You can't even tell I'm wearing it though. Before I got the guard my husband said it sounded like I was chewing rocks in my sleep.
Spectra Spectra 9 years
I don't grind my teeth at night, but my husband drives me crazy! I keep telling him to get a mouthguard made, but he refuses because he doesn't believe that he grinds them! I sometimes find myself clenching my teeth when I get stressed out, but only when I'm awake.
Blondy47 Blondy47 9 years
I had a custom mouth guard made, and while it isn't the cutest thing in the world, it's pretty small and unobtrusive. Plus, my dentist pointed out that they help keep teeth in alignment, preventing future problems. In the 3 months since I got the guard, I've noticed that my teeth and bite are straighter already--and I don't even wear it every night. Only the boyfriend-free nights :)
brown_eyed_grrl brown_eyed_grrl 9 years
I also have TMJ, and I started grinding my teeth. It was wearing my teeth down, so I got a night guard specifically for people who have TMJ, and now my jaw isn't as sore when I wake up. It's not gorgeous, but it works. I'm a little used to the look of it, though, because I used to box and we all had to wear mouth guards in the ring.
nopenope nopenope 9 years
I used to have horrible jaw aches and headaches from sleep bruxism. A big part of my bruxism had to do with having an old prescription in my glasses. I'd be squinting a lot in order to read clearer and would tighten my jaw constantly because of it. I noticed within the first two nights of having my new prescription that the pain and stress weren't there anymore. Also, I noticed a correlation between when my boyfriend had left back to school (we're long distance as he finishes school 400+ miles away, but we lived together before that) and when my morning jaw aches and headaches would start up again. I also tend to get horrible sleep when he's away and it's the same for him and of course, extra stress, heh. It was pretty horrible morning aches when we first went long distance, but has become very rare now with only a few months left until he's home for good.
spydernat spydernat 9 years
I used to grind my teeth as well, I think I don't do it as much now, but I don't know! Someone also told me once that if you didn't have any sugar or sweet things close to bedtime, then you will be less likely to grind your teeth! Try it! xxx
MA-cw MA-cw 9 years
I a terrible problem with grinding my teeth! I had a mouth guard for it, but I often wound up taking it out in my sleep. Mine is definitely anxiety-related, and I've been doing it so long I forget I do it until it causes a problem-- I broke a tooth once, and my dentist though my teeth grinding could have been a cause, and sometimes my jaw hurts. Aside from problems like that though, I don't usually remember I do it.
libarsh libarsh 9 years
Just wanted to jump in for a minute - sleep bruxism can be associated with a sleep disorder know as obstructive sleep apnea - if you snore, have been told you stop breathing during sleep, or awake gasping and choking at night, and/ or have high blood pressure you should be checked especially if you are tired most of the time. For more information you can check out and for more information.. Dr. Barsh
sandyday16 sandyday16 9 years
Been there, done that. TMJ is no fun. Had it when I was younger due to having braces.
Mrs-Lachey Mrs-Lachey 9 years
What about snoring? How do u stop that??
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
When I was little I used to but thank God I don't any more...
Swedeybebe Swedeybebe 9 years
I've got TMJ, and stress from the holidays brought on teeth grinding and/or clenching for me. Rather than go to the drug store to get a big, bulky mouth guard, I had my dentist take impressions of my teeth to have a custom guard made. Luckily my insurance covered almost half (which was about $400 total cost). I used the guard for a week and a half, and my jaw felt much better. It also seemed to help that the holidays were over, too :) At least I've got the guard now in case I start grinding my teeth again.
Mamarosa Mamarosa 9 years
I didn't know I did it until my dentist pointed out the wear patterns. I denied it and went home where my boyfriend informed me that I grind my teeth all night long (this combined with my snoring, I'm surprised he still sleeps in the same room). Anyhow, I got a mouth guard. I was surprised because it turns out that I also grind/ clench my teeth at work when I'm stressed and the mouth guard helps "train" my jaw to keep me from grinding at work.
jessie jessie 9 years
i had that a back in dec/jan. never had it before in my life. stress bought in on. after i calmed down about a few things it went away. but ouchie!
maggieleigh maggieleigh 9 years
A few months ago my jaw was hurting so bad, and I could barely open my mouth to eat. Turns out I was grinding my teeth at night (thank you job stress!) and my dentist recommended I get a night gaurd. My husband makes fun of me when I wear it, but my jaw got better right away. As for the job stress, I'm still working on that...
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