Illustration of a man grinding and clenching his teeth as he sleeps

How to Tell If You Grind & Clench Your Teeth at Night

July 31, 2023 8:45 am

Jaw clenching and teeth grinding are more common than you might think. Lots of people clench or grind their teeth when they’re stressed, but misaligned or missing teeth can be the root cause, too. During the day, there are steps you can take to stop, but what about during the night? How can you tell if you’re clenching and grinding while asleep? Here are some common warning signs:

Pain or Tenderness in the Jaw

The pressure of clenching and grinding stresses your jaw muscles and tissues. If you wake up with a sore or tender jaw, you’re likely clenching or grinding your teeth in your sleep. This pain can be mildly annoying, but if it becomes serious, you can develop TMJ dysfunction.

Dull Headaches

The pressure from clenching and grinding can spread from your jaw and mouth area to your head! All those muscles and joints are connected, so you may feel tension in your temples and forehead. If you’re experiencing dull headaches, bruxism (which is the official name for teeth-grinding) could be the cause.

Plugged Ears & Ear Pain

Do your ears feel oddly full or uncomfortable? Your jaw works like a hinge, and that hinge is right beneath your ears. If there’s a lot of tension in that area, it can affect your inner ear pressure. Your ears may feel plugged, itchy, or even painful.

Worn or Damaged Teeth

You probably can’t tell if your teeth are worn or damaged from clenching and grinding, but a dentist can! As your teeth rub together, the surfaces wear down. They can even chip or crack! During an exam, we’ll spot these issues and determine whether you’re clenching and grinding at night.

Bruxism Treatment at EJM Dental Studio in Columbia, MD

Clenching and teeth grinding can cause a lot of problems! Thankfully, there are treatment options, like nightguards. These are similar to mouthguards you wear for sports, but they’re only worn at night. The flexible plastic works like a cushion, so while it won’t stop you from clenching, it protects your teeth from damage. Dr. Morse can discuss other options if you’re interested in scheduling a consultation!

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