Teeth grinding Symptoms & causes (bruxism)You may clench, grind, or gnash your teeth as a result of a condition called bruxism. Bruxism is the term for when you clench or grind your teeth when you're awake or while you're asleep. (sleep bruxism). A disorder known as bruxism may cause you to clench, grind, or gnash your teeth. When you clench or grind your teeth while you're awake or asleep, it's known as bruxism. (sleep bruxism). Knowing the symptoms of bruxism and getting regular dental treatment are crucial since it's possible to have sleep bruxism without realizing it until difficulties arise.
SymptomsSigns and symptoms of bruxism may include:
- Teeth grinding or clenching, which may be loud enough to wake up your sleep partner
- Teeth that are flattened, fractured, chipped or loose
- Worn tooth enamel, exposing deeper layers of your tooth
- Increased tooth pain or sensitivity
- Tired or tight jaw muscles, or a locked jaw that won't open or close completely
- Jaw, neck or face pain or soreness
- Pain that feels like an earache, though it's actually not a problem with your ear
- Dull headache starting in the temples
- Damage from chewing on the inside of your cheek
- Sleep disruption
When to see a doctorIf you experience any of the aforementioned symptoms or have other worries about your teeth or jaw, consult your dentist or physician. Be careful to bring up tooth grinding in your child at their subsequent dental checkup, as well as any other bruxism symptoms or indicators that you detect in them.
CausesDoctors don't completely understand what causes bruxism, but it may be due to a combination of physical, psychological and genetic factors.
- Awake bruxism may be due to emotions such as anxiety, stress, anger, frustration or tension. Or it may be a coping strategy or a habit during deep concentration.
- Sleep bruxism may be a sleep-related chewing activity associated with arousals during sleep.
Risk factorsThese elements raise your chance of bruxism:
- Stress. Increased anxiety or stress can lead to teeth grinding. So can anger and frustration.
- Age. Bruxism is common in young children, but it usually goes away by adulthood.
- Personality type. Having a personality type that's aggressive, competitive or hyperactive can increase your risk of bruxism.
- Medications and other substances. Bruxism may be an uncommon side effect of some psychiatric medications, such as certain antidepressants. Smoking tobacco, drinking caffeinated beverages or alcohol, or using recreational drugs may increase the risk of bruxism.
- Family members with bruxism. Sleep bruxism tends to occur in families. If you have bruxism, other members of your family also may have bruxism or a history of it.
- Other disorders. Bruxism can be associated with some mental health and medical disorders, such as Parkinson's disease, dementia, gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), epilepsy, night terrors, sleep-related disorders such as sleep apnea, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
ComplicationsIn most cases, bruxism doesn't cause serious complications. But severe bruxism may lead to:
- Damage to your teeth, restorations, crowns or jaw
- Tension-type headaches
- Severe facial or jaw pain
- Disorders that occur in the temporomandibular joints (TMJs), located just in front of your ears, which may sound like clicking when you open and close your mouth