Clenching and Grinding

Awake or Asleep, Clenching and Grinding Teeth Impact Your Health


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Bruxism is a condition in which you grind, gnash or clench your teeth. If you have bruxism, you may unconsciously clench your teeth together during the day or grind them at night, which is called sleep bruxism.

Daytime bruxism while awake is especially common during periods of concentration, anger or stress, and often occurs without the person being aware of it. Once a person is made aware of the habit, it can potentially be stopped or reduced by behavior modification, in some instances assisted by various forms of splint therapy.

Sleep bruxism is very different from bruxism while awake. Sleep bruxism is not under a person’s conscious control, thus is not effectively treated with behavior modification. It usually occurs throughout the night during periods of arousal as a person goes from a deeper stage of sleep to a lighter stage of sleep. This pattern may be repeated many times during the night. Extreme forces can be generated by the jaws while clenching or grinding during sleep, which can result in overuse of the jaw muscles, resulting in morning jaw pain or fatigue and jaw dysfunction. It also may be associated with a sleep disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea.

Bruxism may be mild and may not even require treatment. However, it can be frequent and severe enough to lead to jaw disorders, headaches, damaged teeth and other problems. Because you may have sleep bruxism and be unaware of it until complications develop, it’s important to know the signs and symptoms of bruxism and to seek regular dental care.

Grinding Teeth

Causes of Bruxism may include:

  • Anxiety, stress or tension
  • Suppressed anger or frustration
  • Aggressive, competitive or hyperactive personality type
  • Abnormal alignment of upper and lower teeth (malocclusion)
  • Other sleep problems
  • Response to pain from an earache or teething (in children)
  • Complication resulting from a disorder, such as Huntington’s disease or Parkinson’s disease
  • An uncommon side effect of some psychiatric medications, including certain antidepressants

Signs and symptoms for diagnosing Bruxism:

  • Unusual wear and tear on your teeth
  • Continued breakdown of dental restorations, including loss of crowns
  • Tooth fractures
  • Tooth sensitivity

If you have any of these signs, we will look for changes in your teeth and mouth over the next several visits to see if the process is progressive and to determine whether you need treatment.

Clinching and Griding Treatment

Call us today and we will work with you to find a solution to your grinding and clenching pain.

Clenching and Grinding Teeth Treatment:

Splints are usually constructed of hard acrylic and fit over your upper or lower teeth. Some dentists make them right in the office, while others may send them to a laboratory to be made.

Mouth guards are available over-the-counter, and your dentist can make a custom mouth guard to fit your mouth. Mouth guards are less expensive than splints, are softer than splints and over time they may dislodge during teeth grinding. However, mouth guards may actually increase bruxism in some people.

Correcting misaligned teeth may help if your bruxism seems to be associated with dental problems. In severe cases—when tooth wear has led to sensitivity or the inability to chew properly—your dentist may need to use overlays or crowns to entirely reshape the chewing surfaces of your teeth. Reconstructive treatment can be quite extensive and although it will correct the wear, it may not stop the bruxism.