If you grind your teeth a lot, you may have bruxism. This condition can cause jaw pain and teeth problems. You may not even notice that you’re grinding your teeth during sleep. If you have bruxism symptoms, such as loose teeth, see your healthcare provider. Bruxism treatment is effective and may include a night guard for teeth grinding.
You probably grind your teeth or clench them once in a while. Occasionally grinding your teeth most likely won’t cause any harm.
But if you regularly grind your teeth, you may have a condition called bruxism. It can hurt your:
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Bruxism can happen when you’re awake or asleep. The grinding action is the same, but awake and asleep bruxism are considered two separate conditions:
Teeth grinding can cause several problems:
Like adults, children can have bruxism. Parents may hear their children grinding their teeth in their sleep. But bruxism in children may not lead to long-term damage. Children’s teeth and jaws change quickly, and they may outgrow bruxism by the time they lose their baby teeth.
Still, some children continue to grind their teeth until their teenage years. And regardless of age, teeth grinding in children can lead to:
While stress is a main cause of bruxism in adults, that’s not usually the case with children. Teeth grinding in children may come from:
Talk to a healthcare provider or dentist if your child’s teeth look worn or you hear grinding. Also get any complaints of jaw or teeth pain checked out. Your provider may recommend a night guard for teeth grinding. This night guard can help until they outgrow bruxism. If the bruxism turns out to be stress related, providers can also recommend stress relief options.
Men and women get bruxism at roughly the same rate. If you have a family history of teeth grinding, you may face a higher risk. Other risk factors include:
Bruxism is a common sleep disorder. It affects about 10% of adults and up to 15% of children.
There are many causes of bruxism, including:
Lifestyle habits, such as drinking alcohol, using cigarettes and recreational drugs, and consuming a lot of caffeine (more than six cups of coffee a day). People who drink and smoke are twice as likely to grind their teeth as people who don’t.
Researchers have studied sleep bruxism. They’ve found it starts as a type of sleep disturbance in the central nervous system. Factors that can make the problem worse include:
You may not realize that you’re grinding your teeth at night. But signs that you may have bruxism include:
If you think you may be grinding your teeth, see your dentist. They can examine your TMJs, jaw muscles and teeth for signs of bruxism.
Healthcare providers can often diagnose bruxism based on the physical exam and your symptoms. But in some cases, you may need a sleep study called polysommography. This test takes place in a sleep center and can provide a definitive diagnosis.
There are no medications to stop teeth grinding. Your dentist may fit you with a night guard. You put this customized orthotic device in your mouth before bed. It protects your teeth, muscles and TMJs from the force created during grinding. Your healthcare provider may also prescribe a muscle relaxant to take before bed.
Your provider may review your medications to see if any are contributing to bruxism. Stress may also be a factor. Talk to your healthcare provider about ways to reduce stress:
Other ways to cut back on teeth grinding include:
To prevent bruxism:
The outlook for people with bruxism is good. Children often outgrow teeth grinding by adolescence. For adults, follow your provider’s recommendations. For example, if you have a night guard for teeth grinding, wear it regularly. Sticking with your treatment plan helps improve symptoms, so you feel your best.
You might find that certain sleeping positions cause you to grind your teeth more. You may be able to decrease bruxism by avoiding those positions.
Also look for ways to manage stress. Many people find that stress management can greatly relieve teeth grinding. In addition to talk therapy, you can try at-home stress relief, including a warm bath before bed and listening to soothing music.
If you have bruxism, ask your provider:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Teeth grinding, or bruxism, happens when you clench and grind your teeth. It can happen when you’re awake or asleep. Sleep bruxism can cause more problems since you don’t realize you’re doing it. Without treatment, teeth grinding can lead to problems with your teeth, jaw muscles and jaw joints. If you wake up with headaches or have jaw soreness, see a healthcare provider. They can find the right treatment for you, which may include a night guard for sleeping. Stress management can also help reduce teeth grinding.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/07/2021.
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