It’s not uncommon for people to experience chipped teeth from grinding or clenching or during the night. Many individuals grind their teeth at night unconsciously and don’t realize it until the morning. This nighttime grinding and clenching can cause pain, soreness, and an inability to effectively use your jaw.

If you find yourself clenching your jaw while sleeping and waking up with pain, there are some ways to prevent and treat clenching at night. One of the best ways to prevent and treat nightly clenching is with a nighttime bite guard.

In this article, we’re looking into these commonly asked questions: 

  • How do you prevent chipped teeth from grinding?
  • Why are my teeth chipping and cracking at night?
  • What are the best ways to stop teeth chipping from grinding?

Then we’ll spend some time sharing the ways you can keep from breaking teeth in your sleep and what to do about chipped teeth.

Keep reading to learn more about bruxism, cracked teeth, and what you can do about these two issues.

What Causes Chipped Teeth?

In 2013, experts evaluated nearly 2000 patients for cracked teeth. The survey found that 66% of the patients had at least one cracked molar. In other words, chipped and cracked teeth are common in the dental world.

Some of the causes of chipped teeth include:

  • Biting or chewing hard foods or objects
  • Falls or car accidents
  • Trauma during a sporting event
  • Nighttime teeth grinding and clenching

Grinding and clenching during sleep is one of the leading causes of chipped teeth and can affect anyone in any age group.

What is Sleep Bruxism?

Sleep bruxism is teeth grinding that occurs while you sleep. Studies suggest that 15% of adolescents and 8% of middle-aged adults grind their teeth when they sleep.

The major problem with grinding at night is that it’s hard to control since you aren’t aware that you’re doing it. The added pressure that nighttime grinding places on your jaw and teeth can lead to some severe issues.

To help you understand more about clenching and grinding teeth at night, here are some of the top questions and answers regarding sleep bruxism.

What Are the Symptoms of Sleep Bruxism?

It can be challenging to pinpoint whether someone grinds or clenches their teeth when they sleep. However, a few of the most common symptoms of nighttime clenching include:

  • Jaw or neck pain
  • Morning headaches
  • Unexplained tooth damage
  • Tooth pain or sensitivity

Any of these symptoms may be signs that you grind your teeth at night. If you think you suffer from sleep bruxism, it’s best to contact your dentist.

Can You Chip Your Teeth by Grinding?

Chipped teeth from grinding is one of the more severe consequences of sleep bruxism. Grinding can also lead to increased tooth pain, erosion, or loosening. Additionally, it can damage dental crowns, fillings, and implants.

Sleep bruxism is also the leading cause of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders. TMJ problems can manifest as:

  • Difficulty chewing
  • Chronic jaw pain
  • Popping or clicking in the jaw
  • Trouble opening and closing the jaw
  • Locking of the jaw

If you’ve ever wondered, “Why are my teeth chipping and cracking?” or “Why does my jaw hurt?” it could be due to nighttime clenching or grinding. Putting large amounts of unnecessary pressure on your teeth can negatively affect your jaw and lead to cracked teeth. 

How Do You Stop Clenching Your Jaw While Sleeping?

There aren’t any ways to eliminate or cure nighttime grinding, but there are ways to lessen its effects.

Prescribing and making a custom bite guard is the most common way that dentists treat sleep bruxism. A nighttime occlusal guard helps with sleep bruxism by:

  1. Keeping your upper teeth and lower teeth from coming into contact with each other
  2. Taking the pressure off of your jaw when you sleep 

There are several over-the-counter bite guards, but dentists recommend that you get a custom-fitted night guard for the best results.

Other methods of grinding control include:

  • Stress management: Stress is a significant contributor to grinding and clenching. If you find that you suffer from nighttime grinding, you can try some stress management techniques to help alleviate stress and stop grinding. 
  • Medication: Some medications can help relax your jaw while you sleep. However, these medications may have side effects, and they aren’t always the best long-term solution. Talk to your dentists before taking any grinding medications.
  • Symptom relief: Some people simply seek relief from jaw pain, headaches, or other symptoms brought on by nighttime clenching. Relief may include using anti-inflammatory medications or a hot compress on their jaw to relax their muscles.

Even though there’s no permanent cure for sleep bruxism, it’s essential to treat it. Acting quickly can alleviate unnecessary jaw pain and keep teeth chipping from grinding to a minimum. 

But what happens when you do have chipped teeth from grinding? What can you do, and how do dentists fix cracked teeth?

What to Do About Cracked Teeth from Grinding

The most common teeth that chip or crack from grinding are molars because they directly contact each other. However, some alignment issues can also lead to front teeth chipping or cracking from grinding. 

A few of the symptoms that can indicate you have a broken, chipped, or cracked tooth are:

  • Continual pain or sensitivity
  • Pain when chewing or eating
  • Irregular shape or jagged edges
  • Swollen gums around the chipped tooth

Regardless of which teeth crack, seeing a dentist is the first thing you should do when you think you’ve cracked a tooth. 

If your dentist confirms you have a broken tooth, they’ll often perform one of the following procedures:

  • Dental bonding
  • Dental crowns
  • Root canal

Here’s a look at these processes in more detail.

Dental Bonding

Dental bonding is a safe, quick way to fix a tooth when only a tiny amount of enamel chips off. The procedure is inexpensive and often only takes 30-60 minutes per tooth. 

The dental bonding process involves the dentist:

  • Using a tooth-colored material
  • Placing it on the affected area
  • Shaping it to the shape of the tooth
  • Hardening it into place

After the process is complete, you can resume normal mouth functions.

Dental Crowns

If the crack or chip is more severe, your dentist may need to place dental crowns.

Crowns are metal, porcelain, or ceramic tooth-shaped caps that dentists place over your affected teeth. They strengthen your teeth while providing a natural look and feel. 

A dental crown procedure often requires more than one visit because the dentist needs to:

  • Reshape the chipped tooth/teeth
  • Take an impression of the tooth/teeth
  • Send the impression to a lab
  • Place temporary crowns
  • Wait for the lab to make the crown
  • Place the permanent crowns in your mouth

Once the dentist places the crown, it will last anywhere from 5 to 15+ years.

Root Canal

Sometimes a chip or break can expose the pulp (the inside of the tooth), and a more advanced procedure is necessary to fix it—a root canal.

A root canal involves removing the dead pulp, cleaning the root canal, and sealing it. This procedure helps to preserve the tooth and relieve pain. Often, dentists will place a crown over the tooth once they finish a root canal to strengthen the tooth and keep it from further harm.

Richmond’s Experts for Bruxism-Cracked Teeth

Chipped teeth from grinding are a fairly common occurrence in adolescents and older adults. It’s especially likely for this to occur while sleeping at night, a term called sleep bruxism. Sleep bruxism can lead to TMJ disorders and cracked teeth.

Unfortunately, there are no cures for nighttime grinding, but there are ways to decrease its effects. Using a night guard is one of the most effective ways to treat grinding at night. A nighttime bite guard takes the pressure off the jaw and keeps the upper and lower teeth from direct contact.

If you do experience a cracked tooth from grinding, there are procedures dentists use to fix them. These processes include:

  • Dental bonding
  • Dental crowns
  • Root canals

At Northside Dental Co., we specialize in providing comprehensive dental care in a modern, welcoming environment. From general dental cleanings and checkups to veneers and dental crowns, you’ll find the solution you need. Our expert dentists also have complete training in fixing cracked teeth and prescribing custom night guards to alleviate sleep bruxism. We always ensure you get the friendly, professional care you need.

Book your appointment online or give us a call at 804-767-3410 to see our expert dentists today.