What is Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)

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Have you begun to notice yourself grinding or clenching your teeth together? Most people will occasionally grind or clench their teeth without causing damage. Teeth grinding is a different story when it occurs on a regular basis.

Bruxism or teeth grinding is a learned behavior that often begins during times of stress or anxiety, and what begins as an irritating habit can soon cause substantial damage to your teeth, gums and even the temporomandibular joints (the joints either side of your face responsible for moving your jaw).


Teeth grinding can wear down the teeth, causing them to fracture or loosen. Severe cases can result in tooth loss. As the teeth begin to wear down the relationship between your upper and lower jaws will change, and the loss of vertical height can affect your appearance.

As your teeth become worn it will affect your temporomandibular joints. You might notice they begin to ache or feel constantly sore, or that they feel inflamed and tender to the touch.

Untreated bruxism may begin to expose the pulp, the inner part of the tooth containing all the nerves and blood supply. By this stage you are likely to be in pain due to the exposed pulp becoming infected, and will require root canal therapy to try to save the tooth.

People with untreated bruxism may need crowns, bridges or even implants or dentures to repair the damage caused by this condition.


Bruxism can be difficult to diagnose as most people grind or clench in their sleep, and perhaps your partner has complained about the noise you make while asleep. Other symptoms include:

  • Waking up with a headache or sore jaw
  • Noticing it is difficult to open your jaw, or that it has begun to make popping sounds
  • Your teeth might looker shorter than before as they begin to wear down
  • Increased sensitivity in your teeth as the enamel wears away
  • You might be able to see small fractures in your tooth enamel or even chips
  • Your gums may begin to recede due to the additional pressure being placed on them

More often it is something that can be diagnosed by your dentist who will recognize the signs of damage caused to your teeth and gums.


Make an appointment with Dr. Jonathan Penchas or with another dentist at Midtown Dentistry for a proper diagnosis. If they think you have bruxism then the first thing to do will be to protect the teeth, gums and jaws against further damage. This can be done through fitting you with a custom-made night guard or splint. It will be comfortable to wear, and will prevent your teeth from coming into contact while asleep.

You will need to wear this every night for as long as recommended. Some people find their splint is enough to break the habit of bruxism and will be able to discontinue wearing it, while others will need to continue its use indefinitely. This can depend on the cause of the bruxism, but it is a small price to pay for protecting your dental health.


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