Bruxism: Signs You’re Grinding Your Teeth at Night (and What to Do About it)

Do you ever wake up in the morning with a headache or jaw pain? If so, you may have a minor case of bruxism—better known as ‘night grinding.’ The sore jaw and headaches come from clenching or grinding your teeth while you are asleep. Many of our patients experience this to varying degrees. Your dentist, at Fioritto Family Dental, can diagnose and help treat this condition the next time you’re scheduled for a routine cleaning or dental exam.

How do you know if you’re grinding your teeth at night?

You likely have bruxism without realizing it—after all, you don’t know if you’re grinding your teeth while you’re asleep! There are a few telltale signs that make themselves apparent in the morning, however.

As mentioned, patients with bruxism tend to wake up with a headache or jaw pain, as well as pain in the face or neck. Other symptoms include chewing on the inside of your cheek and increased tooth sensitivity—pain if you drink hot coffee or a cold glass of water in the morning, for example. In more severe cases, you could experience worn tooth enamel or chipped teeth.

Bruxism may be called ‘night grinding,’ but can happen while you’re awake, too. For some people, clenching their teeth in the middle of the day is an unconscious habit they’ve developed due to excessive focus. You may also have these symptoms if you experience high levels of stress on a daily basis. As you might expect, grinding your teeth often correlates to feelings of stress, anxiety or frustration. One of the first things we ask our patients is, “are you under a lot of stress?”

Besides pain, what issues does bruxism cause?

The problem with bruxism isn’t the morning pain that comes with it—it’s the long-term effects on your teeth. Clenching or grinding teeth over time can lead to tooth or crown damage. Some people experience severe tension-related headaches or facial pain, as well. Bruxism can even affect the temporomandibular joints (TMJs) in front of your ears. All that grinding begins to wear on your jaw!

The good news is, catching symptoms of bruxism early on can help you avoid these serious effects. Regular check-ups with your Fioritto dentist are key. With several treatment options to choose from, there are more ways to prevent bruxism from taking a toll.

Here’s what you can do about it

If you’re diagnosed with bruxism, your dentist at Fioritto Family Dental will likely recommend a bite guard. They’re available in various levels, providing a buffer between your teeth to prevent abrasive grinding. They’re comfortable and have a sleek design you can wear all night. More intense cases of bruxism may require a bite guard that’s more durable—usually one with a hard exterior.

Beyond a bite guard, it’s smart to think about ways to mitigate your stress on a daily basis. Try to pick up a calming hobby like yoga or meditation. Get in a good workout to blow off steam. Since stress is the biggest contributor to bruxism, it’s important to tackle your stressors, too.

The next time you schedule an appointment with Fioritto Family Dental, tell us about any morning jaw pain or soreness. We’ll examine your teeth for signs of grinding and help you evaluate next steps. We want all our Mentor, OH patients to sleep soundly, without the aches and pains of night grinding!

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