Some people grind their teeth in their sleep. When you are awake, you may keep your teeth clenched when you are feeling normal and relaxed. Bruxism can damage your teeth and cause headaches and jaw pain. People who have sleep bruxism are more likely to have sleep disorders like sleep apnea.
The cause of bruxism is not clear. It can be related to emotions such as anxiety or stress, but it can also be caused by health problems including acid reflux, sleep disorders or misaligned teeth. Bruxism may be a side effect of certain medications, or be caused by personality type. Bruxism is common in children, but it usually goes away by the time they are teenagers.
In adults, bruxism can cause complication if it is severe. If you catch yourself clenching your teeth when you are awake, you can try to stop, but if you clench or grind your teeth in your sleep you probably won’t realize it until a problem arises. Worn teeth are one sign of sleep bruxism. You may also be a nighttime teeth grinder if you experience frequent headaches, jaw pain or soreness, sensitive teeth, or damage to your tongue or the inside of your cheeks.
A dentist can usually spot the signs of sleep bruxism more easily than the patient can. If you have symptoms of sleep bruxism or know you grind or clench your teeth when you are awake, a trip to the dentist could provide solutions. Mild bruxism usually does not need treatment, but if bruxism is causing pain or harming your teeth, corrective measures could include correcting misaligned teeth; using a custom fitted mouthguard when you sleep to align your jaws correctly and prevent clenching; or behavior therapy, which is the practicing of proper mouth position to train yourself not to clench your teeth. Caffeine or alcohol consumption shortly before sleeping can increase the likelihood of teeth grinding, so avoiding these substances before bed can also help.