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.

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