The Nightly Grind: What is Bruxism?

September 12th, 2019

Snoring is not the only “night noise” that your partner may be complaining about. If you grind, gnash or clench your teeth while sleeping, you may have a condition known as bruxism – and if not treated could cause tooth damage, headaches and even serious jaw disorders.  

 Mild grinding is fairly common but when it begins to wear tooth enamel, cause jaw soreness or fracture the teeth, it requires the attention of your dentist. Plus, just the grinding noise alone can cause you and your partner to experience a restless night of sleep. According to the Mayo Clinic, these symptoms could increase your risk of bruxism: 

  • Stress – Anger, anxiety and frustration can all contribute 
  • Age – More common in young children but can continue into adulthood 
  • Personality – Aggressive, competitive, or hyperactive people are candidates for bruxism 
  • Medications and Drugs – Certain antidepressants, tobacco, caffeine or recreational drugs are causes of bruxism 
  • Family – Bruxism tends to occur in families 
  • Other Disorders – Mental health and medical disorders like Parkinson’s disease, dementia, night terrors, sleep apnea and ADHD can all contribute 
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Modifying behavior can be a first step in preventing or treating bruxism.

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Coping Tips 

So, what can you do about the nightly grind? According to SleepScore Labs’ VP of Scientific Affairs, Dr. Roy Raymann, modifying behavior can be a great first step in preventing or treating bruxism. 

If stress is the primary cause, try to find ways to reduce the stress before bedtime. Exercisea warm bath early in the evening, meditation, or a massage prior to bedtime could all help. This can allow you to relax and let go of the day’s stress.” Dr. Raymann notes. “It’s also important to keep the bedroom as a place for relaxation and sleep, so keep work-related items like computers out of it.”  

Dr. Raymann adds that you can also do some bruxism exercises to become more aware when it happens. You can do this by placing your tongue on the back of your top teeth or by relaxing your jaw when you feel jaw tension is building up.  

The National Sleep Foundation has also listed a few tips for coping with the frustrating grind of sleep bruxism2 

  • Partners – Partners of those with bruxism can sleep with earplugs to block the noise. 
  • Bedtime – To ease symptoms, try to relax in the hours before bedtime to reduce stress. 
  • Sleep Position – If you sleep on your back, try a side sleeping position. 

Get the Guard 

Perhaps the most common method for reducing the grinding associated with bruxism is by getting a custom-fitted mouthguard from your dentist. You can also find mouthguards that can be molded at home. There are several options on the market, but SleepScore recommends choosing one that has been evaluated and tried by sleep experts. Check out these great options that work for many people who experience bruxism that will keep you and your partner happy!   


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