While most people might clench or grind their teeth when they are dealing with a stressful situation,
many people grind their teeth in their sleep. Most people do not even know that they grind their teeth
while they are sleeping unless they wake up with a sore jaw, headache, or a loved one tells them they
are grinding their teeth. If you find out you are grinding your teeth (also known as bruxism) first thing
you need to do is speak with your dentist.

What causes someone to grind while they sleep?

Most of the time someone will grind their teeth while they sleep due to stress or anxiety. However, it is
more likely due to an abnormal bite or crooked teeth. In some instances it is due to a more serious sleep
condition, such as, sleep apnea.

How bad is it to grind your teeth?

In addition to waking up with a headache or sore jaw, grinding your teeth in your sleep has serious
repercussions on your mouth. Grinding your teeth every night may wear your teeth down to stumps. If
this happens, it can cause discomfort such as tooth sensitivity or tooth decay, or lead to more serious
problems like bridges, crowns, root canals, or even dentures could be needed.

What can I do to stop grinding my teeth?

First, you can talk to your dentist or doctor about getting a mouth guard. If you do not have sleep
apnea, a mouth guard will help protect your teeth from further grinding (however, if you do have sleep
apnea, a mouth guard could make things worse, so be sure to talk to your dentist or doctor first.)

A few tricks you can try at home to stop grinding before you get in to your dentist are:
1. Avoid caffeine, like coffee, soda, or sweets.
2. Avoid alcohol
3. Avoid chewing on things that are not food, including gum.
4. Relax your jaw muscles at night before bed. You can do this by holding a warm washcloth
against your cheek.

Open up the airway

If it’s discovered that you do have something blocking your airway while you sleep, your dentist can get
you a dental appliance to hold your jaw in place so the tongue and jaw don’t block your airway. Most of
the time, the grinding and other events that are associated with sleep apnea, will stop. Also, keep in
mind that untreated sleep apnea can have serious consequences like diabetes, depression, anxiety, or
high blood pressure.

What are the next steps?

If you’ve discovered you grind your teeth, first talk to your dentist. If they don’t know the cause of why
you could be grinding your teeth, they might suggest you speak with your doctor about participating in a
sleep study to see if you have sleep apnea or another medical condition. Long story short? Don’t just
grab a mouth guard at the grocery store without speaking to your dentist first!