Teeth Grinding In Your Sleep

Teeth Grinding In Your Sleep


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Have you ever experienced neck pain or a click in your jaw after a long night’s rest and have no idea why? You may be grinding your teeth at night without even knowing it! At Williams & Hamman Orthodontics, we understand how uncomfortable teeth-grinding complications can be and are here to share how to spot and prevent them.

What is it? Why is it a problem?

Teeth grinding, often referred to as bruxism, is an oral issue in which one unconsciously clenches or gnashes their teeth together. Though typically discussed as an issue experienced while asleep, it may also occur during the daytime. If gone undiagnosed for an extended period of time, bruxism can wear the teeth down to stumps, thus necessitating more displeasure and avoidable procedures such as crowns, root canals, and bridges. Grinding may also cause long-term pain, migraines, and tooth fractures.


Though most often attributed to stress, this condition is additionally a side effect of hyperactivity, sleep apnea, family history and even intense concentration. Teeth grinding is a stress reliever for the body. If you suffer from anxiety, depression, or mood swings, awake bruxism is how the body may unconsciously react to these feelings, serving as a physical release. When you are regularly bothered by negative feelings, your jaw muscles will likely clench up as a reaction to stress hormones like cortisol activating.

Lifestyle choices, including the excessive consumption of stimulants such as caffeine or alcohol, are other contributing factors to bruxism. While not the main contributor to this condition, the intake of these goods, especially later in the day, can cause hyperactivity and anxious feelings when your body is meant to be winding down for the day. Due to your natural sleep pattern being interrupted, you may also experience sleep apnea or unnatural breathing patterns.

If a close family member suffers from bruxism, you may have a predisposition to teeth grinding. Of course, many other outside factors influence your chances of experiencing the condition yourself. However, you may then be more likely to grind your teeth as a side effect of other circumstances.

Side effects

What makes teeth grinding especially hard to identify early on is you may not even be aware of the issue until complications and side effects arise. Some common symptoms include morning jaw stiffness, headaches, tooth indentations in the tongue, and clenching of the jaw while upset or stressed. From mild clenching (resulting in a popping noise or slight discomfort in the jaw) to chronic grinding (potentially causing cracked teeth), bruxism ranges in severity depending on how regular the movement occurs. Additional problems that may arise include temperature-sensitive teeth, dysfunction in the temporomandibular joint (also known as TMD), and limited jaw movement. 

These are by no means exhaustive lists of causes or side effects, so if these issues sound familiar to you and you suspect you may be grinding your teeth, don’t hesitate to share your symptoms with Dr. Williams or Dr. Hamman during your next checkup with us. We will be happy to help you identify any issues. It is always better to be diagnosed as early as possible so that we can try and halt any discomfort for you before things get worse.

How do you manage it?

The good news is bruxism is a very treatable condition, and we have many options for dealing with bruxism here at Williams & Hamman Orthodontics. Simply being aware of this habit and knowing what triggers your teeth grinding to occur can help you identify what solutions may work best. 

try to avoid stress

With stress being the most frequent cause of teeth grinding, a common proactive treatment for bruxism at our office is a custom-fitted overnight mouthguard, which acts as a protective barrier to prevent your teeth from making direct contact. Also known as a bite splint, it is designed so that the splint wears down at night instead of your teeth bearing the impact. Though mouth guards can be worn during the day, this treatment is typically introduced to prevent teeth grinding in your sleep. So, what solutions are there to explore if you suffer during the day?

Because awake bruxism happens involuntarily, being aware of this habit is the first step! Making conscious decisions to avoid teeth grinding may help reduce pain. Actively thinking about the position of your teeth, lips, and tongue to prevent tension in the jaw area can help train your brain into the best placement. If you notice your teeth touching during the day, you can simply place the tip of your tongue between your teeth to prevent any potential grinding from further happening.

navigating issues through therapy

Managing day-to-day anxieties can be a daunting task. Sitting down and recognizing the biggest stressors in your life may help you to work towards better navigating those negative emotions. Whether work-related, relationship-related, or otherwise, talking through these feelings with a professional to create a plan of action and preventing them from taking control can make a significant difference. Recognizing any underlying issues diminishes the power it holds and places the power back in your hands. 

relaxation techniques

We recommend deep breathing, yoga and muscle relaxation to help prevent further damage. Sometimes, it is not until we calm down that we are aware of how tense our body is. Identifying when your muscles are tense and letting them ease back into a normal state can help you more quickly release that stress during the day when your jaw is tightening up. 

reducing levels of caffeine and alcohol

Falling asleep with high-stress levels is always uncomfortable. By regulating evening caffeine and alcohol intake, your body can ease into a restful state and similarly reduce stress come nightfall. Williams & Hamman Orthodontics recommends healthier ways to stay awake, such as drinking plenty of water, stretching, and practicing good sleep hygiene to help diminish the adverse effects of nighttime teeth grinding. 

We are here to help!

Here at Williams & Hamman Orthodontics, we are here to help you deal with any issues concerning bruxism, and we encourage you to share any concerns as they arise. We believe that everyone deserves restful sleep and healthy teeth. Give us a call today and schedule your free consultation with us at one of our offices in Olive Branch or Southaven!

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399 Southcrest Ct Suite B, Southaven, MS 38671

Phone: (662) 349-2196

Email: nathanrhamman@gmail.com

  • MON8:00 am - 6:00 pm
  • TUEBy appointments only
  • WED8:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • THU - FRIBy appointments only
  • SAT - SUNClosed
Contact Us

5036 Goodman Rd. #118, Olive Branch, MS 38654

Phone: (662) 892-8489

Email: nathanrhamman@gmail.com

  • MON8:00 am - 6:00 pm
  • TUE8:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • WEDBy appointments only
  • THU8:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • FRIBy appointments only
  • SAT - SUNClosed
Contact Us