How Do I Know if I Grind My Teeth? Top Signs and Symptoms - Happy Sleep

How Do I Know if I Grind My Teeth? Top Signs and Symptoms

Posted by Dr Jack Gerschman on

Teeth grinding (also known as bruxism) can be a nuisance, often going unnoticed until it causes pain or tooth damage. In this article we discuss how to tell if you grind your teeth and what to do about it. Let's get straight into it.

How To Tell If You Grind Your Teeth At Night

There are some tell-tale signs to be aware of, particularly upon waking. These include jaw soreness which can extend to the ear area, waking up with headaches (especially around the temples), and tooth sensitivity to hot, cold, or sweet stimuli. Physical evidence includes noticeable wear or flattening of the teeth, damage to the inside of the cheeks from accidental biting, and the presence of tiny cracks or fractures in the teeth. 

Self-Assessment and Monitoring at Home

If you suspect you’re grinding your teeth at night, there are also ways you can monitor potential teeth grinding (bruxism) at home.

Getting Help from a Sleep Partner

If you share your bed with a partner, ask them to note:

  • Any grinding sounds during the night.
  • Movements that seem unusual or related to discomfort.
  • Times when these sounds or movements occur, if possible.

Maintain a Sleep Diary

A sleep diary is a simple yet effective tool for tracking your sleep habits and any symptoms you might experience. Each morning, jot down:

  • Any pain or discomfort in your jaw, face, or teeth.
  • Headaches or ear aches upon waking up.
  • Observations from your sleep partner about noises or grinding sounds.
  • What you did the previous day/night that may have an impact on symptoms.

This diary can reveal patterns and triggers related to your suspected teeth grinding, such as stress, alcohol, or certain sleep positions.

How Can Dentists Tell If You Clench Your Teeth?

Dentists have specific methods to determine if a patient is clenching or grinding their teeth, a condition known as bruxism.

Here's what they typically look for and how they assess the condition:

During your dental examination, the dentist will conduct a thorough evaluation focusing on key indicators of teeth grinding:

Tooth Wear and Damage: The dentist will examine your teeth for signs of wear, such as flattened, fractured, or chipped surfaces.

Gum Recession and Tooth Mobility: Gum recession and loose teeth which can be the result from the constant pressure of grinding.

Jaw Muscle Examination: The dentist will palpate (examine by touch) your jaw muscles for tenderness, tightness, and signs of hypertrophy (enlargement).

TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) Assessment: The condition of your TMJ will be assessed for any clicking, popping, or difficulty moving.

For a more detailed analysis, dentists might employ additional diagnostic tools:

Dental X-rays: These can reveal changes in the jaw and teeth structure that are not visible during a standard examination.

Bite Tests: Special coloured paper can be used to have you bite down and reveal patterns that indicate uneven pressure or grinding spots.

Referral for Sleep Study: If your dentist thinks you might be grinding your teeth in your sleep, they could send you to a sleep specialist. There, you'd have a polysomnography. This detailed sleep study tracks different body functions while you sleep, like how your jaw muscles move.

Using these observations and tools, dentists can accurately diagnose bruxism and can then suggest a treatment plan. Early detection is important to preventing further dental issues as we'll soon see.

Long-Term Effects of Untreated Teeth Grinding

Ignoring teeth grinding might seem harmless at first, but it can lead to serious long-term dental and other issues.

Dental Complications and Health Impacts

Continuous grinding puts a lot of pressure on your teeth, leading to:

Tooth Wear and Damage: Over time, the enamel can wear down, making your teeth more susceptible to decay, cracks, and chips.

Increased Sensitivity: As the enamel wears away, your teeth may become more sensitive to hot, cold, and sweet foods or drinks.

Gum Recession: The force from grinding can also cause your gums to recede. This exposes your tooth roots, making them more sensitive and possibly leading to tooth loss.

TMJ Disorders: Chronic grinding can strain the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), leading to pain, clicking, or locking of the jaw.

Headaches and Facial Pain: Frequent bruxism can cause tension headaches and chronic facial pain.

Budget-Friendly Options for Protecting Your Teeth and Health

While there are various ways to protect your teeth, it's important to find a method that works for you.

Lifestyle Changes and Home Remedies

In addition to protective devices, lifestyle adjustments can play a crucial role in managing bruxism.

Dietary Adjustments: Steering clear of hard or chewy foods can help reduce strain on your jaw muscles and teeth.

Avoid Chewing Gum: Chewing gum basically trains your jaw to clench, increasing the likelihood that you'll do it even when you're not chewing.

Jaw Exercises: Simple exercises to relax and stretch the jaw can alleviate tension and discomfort.

Stress Management:  Since stress can lead to teeth grinding, relaxing before bed helps. Try meditation or reading. Reading before going to sleep has worked for me personally.

Click here for a full run-down of home remedies for teeth grinding.

Custom-Fitted Mouth Guards

Dentists often suggest custom mouth guards because of their precise fit and effectiveness. These guards offer great protection but can be very expensive, often costing upwards of $500. This cost, coupled with dental visits and possible replacements, can make custom guards prohibitively expensive for many.

The Happy Sleep for Teeth Grinders Mouth Guard: A Smarter Solution

The Happy Sleep for Teeth Grinders mouth guard is a practical, effective, and affordable solution. It offers relief and protection from teeth grinding by providing a resilient protective barrier against teeth grinding.

This mouth guard for teeth grinding is made for comfort. fits snugly, ensuring it stays in place while you sleep without causing discomfort. It's ready to use right out of the box, eliminating the need for time-consuming dental visits for fittings.

Say goodbye to morning jaw pain and hello to a happier, healthier smile. Get your Happy Sleep for teeth grinders guard today.

Don’t Wait For Your Teeth Grinding to Get Worse

Addressing teeth grinding early can help prevent these outcomes and maintain both your dental health and overall well-being. If you suspect you're grinding your teeth at night, consider consulting a dentist for an evaluation and treatment options.

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