About Us

The Argument In Favor Of Using Filler Text Goes Something Like This: If You Use Arey Real Content In The Consulting Process Anytime You Reachtent.

close-up view of young woman suffering from toothache while lying in bed
By Amy Pearson March 26, 2024

Bruxism, pronounced as BRUK-siz-um, is a condition where you involuntarily grind, gnash, or clench your teeth. It can occur during the day (awake bruxism) or while you’re asleep (sleep bruxism).

Sleep bruxism is categorized as a sleep-related movement disorder. Individuals who grind or clench their teeth during sleep are more likely to have other sleep-related issues like snoring or pauses in breathing, known as sleep apnea.

While mild bruxism may not necessarily need treatment, for some individuals, it can become frequent and severe, leading to complications such as jaw disorders, headaches, and dental damage.

Since sleep bruxism can go unnoticed until problems arise, it’s crucial to recognize the signs and symptoms of bruxism and to maintain regular dental check-ups to address any potential issues promptly.

Why do I chew my teeth while sleeping?

Chewing teeth while sleeping, also known as bruxism, might seem like a strange habit, but it’s actually quite common. Bruxism occurs when you grind, gnash, or clench your teeth unconsciously, usually during sleep. While it might not seem like a big deal at first glance, it can have some serious consequences for your dental health and overall well-being.

So, why do people chew their teeth while sleeping?

Stress and Anxiety

One of the primary reasons for bruxism is stress and anxiety. When you’re feeling stressed or anxious, your body tends to tense up, including your jaw muscles. This tension can lead to grinding or clenching your teeth, even while you’re asleep. It’s like your body’s way of releasing built-up tension, but it’s not very kind to your teeth!

Sleep Disorders

Bruxism is also associated with certain sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea. People with sleep apnea often experience interrupted breathing during sleep, which can trigger teeth grinding as the body tries to reopen the airway. Additionally, other sleep-related issues like snoring or restless leg syndrome can contribute to bruxism.

Dentures on plaster cast. Close-up on a black background

Misaligned Bite or Crooked Teeth

Sometimes, the way your teeth fit together can play a role in bruxism. If you have a misaligned bite or crooked teeth, it can create uneven pressure when you close your jaw, leading to grinding or clenching as your body tries to find a more comfortable position.

Medications and Substances

Certain medications and substances can also increase the likelihood of bruxism. For example, stimulants like caffeine or certain antidepressants can exacerbate teeth grinding. Additionally, recreational drugs like cocaine or ecstasy have been linked to bruxism as well.

Lifestyle Factors

Lifestyle habits, such as excessive alcohol consumption or smoking, can also contribute to bruxism. Alcohol can relax the muscles, including those in your jaw, making you more prone to grinding your teeth. Smoking can also increase muscle tension, leading to bruxism.

Now that we know why people chew their teeth while sleeping, what can be done about it?

One common approach is wearing a night guard, also known as a mouthguard or splint. These are custom-made devices that you wear over your teeth while you sleep. Night guards help protect your teeth from the damage caused by grinding and clenching, acting as a cushion to absorb the forces exerted by your jaw.

Stress management techniques can also be helpful in reducing bruxism. Finding healthy ways to cope with stress, such as exercise, meditation, or therapy, can help relax your body and reduce tension in your jaw muscles.

In some cases, treating underlying sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, can alleviate bruxism. This might involve using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine or other treatments to improve breathing during sleep.

To wrap it up, while chewing teeth while sleeping might seem odd, it’s a common issue with various underlying causes. Stress, sleep disorders, misaligned teeth, medications, and lifestyle factors can all contribute to bruxism.

Fortunately, there are effective treatments available, from night guards to stress management techniques, to help protect your teeth and improve your sleep quality. If you suspect you’re grinding your teeth at night, it’s essential to speak with your dentist or healthcare provider to explore the best options for you.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine

What are the long-term effects of bruxism?

Bruxism, or teeth grinding, might seem harmless at first glance, but its long-term effects can be quite significant. Let’s dive into the potential consequences of bruxism and why they matter for your dental health and overall well-being.

Tooth Sensitivity

One of the primary long-term effects of bruxism is tooth sensitivity. When you grind your teeth, the protective layer of enamel on the surface can wear away over time. Enamel acts as a shield, protecting the sensitive inner layers of your teeth from exposure to hot, cold, sweet, or acidic foods and drinks.

As enamel wears down, you may start to experience heightened sensitivity, making it uncomfortable to consume certain foods and beverages.

Gum Inflammation or Bleeding

Bruxism doesn’t just affect your teeth; it can also impact your gums. The excessive pressure and movement of grinding can irritate the gums, leading to inflammation or bleeding. This inflammation can make your gums more susceptible to gum disease, a serious condition that can ultimately result in tooth loss if left untreated.

Loose Teeth

Over time, the relentless grinding and clenching of bruxism can loosen your teeth from their sockets. This can occur as a result of the excessive force exerted on the teeth and surrounding tissues. Loose teeth not only affect your ability to chew properly but also jeopardize the stability of your entire dental structure.

Damage to Dental Work

If you’ve invested in dental work such as crowns, bridges, or fillings, bruxism can wreak havoc on these restorations. The constant pressure and motion of grinding can cause these dental materials to crack, chip, or become dislodged. This not only compromises the effectiveness of the dental work but also necessitates costly repairs or replacements.

Flattened or Shortened Teeth

Another consequence of bruxism is the gradual flattening or shortening of your teeth. As you grind your teeth, the surfaces can wear down, resulting in a lessened height and altered shape. This can affect your bite alignment and overall dental aesthetics, leading to further complications down the road.

Tooth Fractures

In severe cases of bruxism, the excessive force exerted on the teeth can lead to fractures or cracks. These fractures can range from minor surface cracks to more extensive damage involving the inner layers of the tooth. Tooth fractures not only compromise the structural integrity of the affected teeth but also increase the risk of infection and decay.

TMJ Syndrome

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome is a common condition associated with bruxism. The TMJ is the joint that connects your jaw to your skull, and it can become strained or inflamed due to the repetitive motion of grinding. This can result in pain, tension, and stiffness in the jaw, as well as difficulty chewing or opening your mouth fully.

The long-term effects of bruxism can have serious implications for your dental health and quality of life. From tooth sensitivity and gum inflammation to loose teeth and TMJ syndrome, untreated bruxism can lead to a host of complications.

If you suspect you’re grinding your teeth, it’s essential to consult with your dentist to explore treatment options and prevent further damage. Whether it’s wearing a night guard, practising stress management techniques, or addressing underlying issues like sleep disorders, taking proactive steps to manage bruxism can help preserve your smile for years to come.

cropped view of woman putting on orthodontic trainer dental braces isolated on white

Treatment For Bruxism

There are several options available to address bruxism, or teeth grinding. These include:

Mouthguard or Mouth Splint

Your dentist might suggest using a mouth splint or mouthguard while you sleep to safeguard your teeth from damage. These devices help by distributing the pressure evenly across your jaw, acting as a barrier between your teeth, and reducing the noise caused by grinding. Mouthguards for bruxism are typically made of flexible rubber or plastic.

Your dentist can customize one to fit your teeth precisely, or you can purchase an over-the-counter (OTC) version, although these may not be as comfortable. Mouth splints, made of harder plastic, fit directly onto your teeth. They can be designed to fit over your top or bottom teeth, providing either a more relaxed jaw position or absorbing damage instead of your teeth.

It’s not recommended to use generic mouthguards designed for sports, as they may be bulky and uncomfortable.


Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen can help alleviate any pain and swelling associated with bruxism. In some cases, a doctor may prescribe short-term medication to relax the muscles and interrupt the teeth-grinding cycle, allowing your jaw muscles to rest and reducing symptoms. If a medication could be causing bruxism as a side effect, it’s essential to discuss alternatives with your doctor before making any changes.


Biofeedback therapy helps individuals become aware of involuntary bodily functions, such as breathing or heart rate, and teaches them to control them. While research on the effectiveness of biofeedback for bruxism is limited, some evidence suggests that a specific biofeedback tool called contingent electrical stimulation may improve symptoms after several nights of use.


In severe cases of bruxism, injections of botulinum toxin, commonly known as Botox, can temporarily paralyze the muscles responsible for teeth grinding during sleep. However, Botox treatments can be costly, and regular injections are necessary to maintain the effects.

Treatment for Underlying Conditions

Addressing underlying issues like stress, anxiety, depression, or sleep apnea may help alleviate bruxism. Seeking treatment for these conditions typically involves a combination of talk therapy and medication to manage symptoms.

However, if certain medications are causing bruxism as a side effect, starting with therapy may be a better option. Additionally, consulting a doctor about conditions like sleep apnea can lead to a diagnosis and appropriate treatment, such as using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine to prevent sleep disturbances.

How to prevent bruxism?

For individuals experiencing primary bruxism, there are steps they can take to potentially lessen or prevent symptoms through self-care practices. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Avoiding Triggers: Steering clear of alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine can help reduce the likelihood of bruxism episodes. These substances can exacerbate teeth grinding and should be minimized or avoided altogether.
  2. Chewing Gum: It’s advisable to refrain from chewing gum, as this activity can contribute to increased wear and tear on the teeth or even encourage more grinding behaviour.
  3. Applying Heat: Applying gentle heat to the jaw area can provide relief from pain and tension associated with bruxism. This can be done using warm compresses or heating pads, but it’s essential to ensure the heat is not too intense to avoid causing further discomfort.
  4. Stress Management: Managing stress is crucial in mitigating bruxism symptoms. While some stressors may be unavoidable, there are techniques to reduce its impact. Seeking support from friends, family, or professionals, making time for relaxation activities, and practising mindfulness can all help alleviate stress levels.
  5. Relaxation Techniques: Engaging in relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, or other mindfulness practices can promote relaxation and reduce tension in the jaw muscles. These activities can be incorporated into daily routines to promote overall well-being and reduce the likelihood of bruxism episodes.

Implementing these self-care strategies and adopting healthy habits and you can take proactive steps to manage primary bruxism and minimize its impact on their dental health and overall quality of life.

Amy Pearson