Jaw pain from grinding teeth at night or during the day is an issue you should address quickly. If you regularly experience unexplained pain in your jaw, you may suffer from bruxism.
Bruxism is the technical term for clenching or grinding teeth. It’s often an unconscious habit that people do during the daytime or nighttime hours. If left untreated, grinding teeth while sleeping or during daytime hours can lead to long-term jaw and tooth issues.
Unfortunately, there’s no immediate cure for bruxism. However, there are ways to prevent grinding at night and alleviate its associated symptoms.
Are you wondering what causes teeth grinding?
Do you want to know how to stop grinding your teeth at night?
Interested in learning more about how to know if you’re clenching teeth at night?
In this article, we’re answering these questions so that you can better understand what to do about clenching and grinding. You’ll also learn some of the top remedies for grinding teeth.
Keep reading to get an answer to “What is bruxism?” and “How can I stop grinding my teeth?”
What Is Bruxism?
Bruxism is a dental term for clenching or grinding teeth. It’s often an unconscious habit that people do during daytime hours (awake bruxism) or while sleeping at night (sleep bruxism).
Some valuable facts to know about bruxism include:
- Sleep bruxism is considered a sleep disorder, and those with bruxism often have other disorders, like snoring or sleep apnea.
- Grinding teeth while sleeping or awake can lead to jaw- and tooth-related complications (i.e., TMJ disorder) and should be treated quickly before more harm occurs.
- There’s no immediate “cure” for bruxism, but there are ways to get it under control and diminish its effects on your jaw and teeth.
People who grind or clench their teeth don’t usually realize it until severe symptoms arise. Knowing and recognizing the signs of bruxism allows you to seek expert dental treatment before developing more serious complications.
How to Know if You’re Clenching Teeth at Night
Jaw pain from grinding teeth is the most common (and often most immediate) symptom that people experience. The increased, prolonged pressure that grinding places on your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) in your jaw can lead to TMJ disorder. TMJ disorder is often accompanied with:
- An inability to open/close your mouth
- Difficulty chewing or speaking
- Increased jaw pain and discomfort
Aside from jaw pain, other symptoms associated with grinding teeth while sleeping or being awake include:
- Worn down or cracked teeth
- Worn down enamel (tooth pain or increased sensitivity)
- Neck or shoulder pain
- Dull, chronic headaches
If you experience multiple days with unexplained jaw pain or any of the other symptoms listed above, you may want to contact your dentist. They can help you understand your situation and create a treatment plan moving forward.
What Causes Teeth Grinding?
Are you wondering, “Why do I keep grinding my teeth when I sleep?”
Dental and medical experts aren’t exactly sure why people grind their teeth, but they have some ideas about what may encourage it.
Experts suggest that bruxism is highly related to emotions like:
In addition, it’s believed that people often develop grinding as a coping strategy or habit during periods of deep concentration.
Some people are also at higher risk for bruxism than others. These groups include:
- Young children
- People in high-stress jobs or situations
- Those with a family history of bruxism
- Individuals with aggressive, competitive, or hyperactive personalities
Studies suggest that sleep bruxism is prevalent in children but goes away with age.
However, if you’re a teen or adult who still suffers from bruxism, there are ways to treat it and preserve your jaw and teeth.
How to Stop Grinding Your Teeth at Night
Now that you know what bruxism is, the symptoms associated with it, and some of its possible causes, let’s look at some remedies for grinding teeth at night or during the day.
There are three main ways to deal with bruxism:
- An occlusal guard
- Stress relief
Here’s a more in-depth look at these three methods to help you stop biting your teeth while sleeping.
Want to know the best answer to “How can I stop grinding my teeth?”
The most effective way to alleviate the symptoms of grinding teeth while sleeping is with an occlusal guard (also called a bite guard, nightguard, or mouthguard).
Dentists make occlusal guards from a safe, rubbery material. You place it in your mouth (usually during nighttime hours while you sleep) to protect your teeth from the pressures of clenching and grinding.
You can get an over-the-counter bite guard or order one online.
However, the best way to ensure your nightguard fits and works properly is to get a custom-made guard from your dentist. A custom mouthguard will cost a little extra money but is well worth the investment because it will properly fit your mouth and bite.
Some medications can help with nighttime grinding and its symptoms.
Common medications that a dentist or medical professional may suggest include:
- Muscle relaxants
- Botox injections
- Anxiety or stress medications
The problem with medications is that they’re generally not a long-term solution. They can also come with adverse side effects, especially if you’re already taking medications for other medical conditions.
Before starting a new medication for bruxism, it’s best to consult your dentist and/or physician.
Since stress is a primary contributing factor to bruxism, managing stress is a natural way to reduce jaw pain from grinding teeth.
Some methods for dealing with stress include:
- Meditation or yoga
- Stress therapy
- Exercise or other hobbies
Limiting stimulation and stress before bedtime is also a great way to decrease your risk of grinding teeth at night.
Expert Advice About Your Jaw Pain From Grinding Teeth
Bruxism (or teeth grinding) is an unconscious habit that people do during the day or while sleeping at night. People who suffer from bruxism are encouraged to seek treatment. Otherwise, teeth grinding can lead to long-term jaw and tooth issues, like TMJ disorder.
However, those who grind their teeth at night often don’t realize they do it until they experience jaw pain or other symptoms, like:
- Headaches or earaches
- Unexplained neck or shoulder pain
- Worn-down teeth or enamel
- Tooth pain or sensitivity
Dentists and medical experts aren’t entirely sure what causes teeth grinding but think it’s associated with:
- Emotions like stress, anxiety, anger, and frustration
- Family history
- An aggressive, competitive, or hyperactive personality
Medications can provide short-term relief from bruxism symptoms, and managing stress levels can help reduce the risk of grinding.
However, purchasing a custom-made occlusal guard from a dentist is the best way to treat bruxism and prevent long-term damage to your jaw and teeth.
At Northside Dental Co, we have highly-trained dentists ready to assist you with all your dental needs. Whether you need a routine cleaning, cosmetic or restorative work, or a custom occlusal guard, we can do it all. We accept most major dental insurance, and we also offer a dental savings plan that makes dental work affordable for those who don’t have insurance.
Schedule your appointment online today to get the best dental care in Richmond, VA.