If you grind your teeth, you have bruxism

Whilst the habit of grinding your teeth is often linked to anxiety or stress, the sufferer isn’t necessarily aware of this because it usually takes place during sleep.  Therefore, when the often connected symptoms of facial pain and headaches occur, you won’t be able to relate this to teeth grinding.  Your first port of call may therefore be your GP rather than your dentist. 

Other symptoms are:

  • earache
  • pain and stiffness in the jaw joint (temporomandibular joint) and surrounding muscles
  • disrupted sleep (for you or your partner)
  • worn-down teeth, which can lead to increased sensitivity and even tooth loss
  • broken teeth or fillings

Whilst severe tooth damage is unlikely, it is well worth making an appointment to see your dentist if:

  • your teeth are worn, damaged or sensitive
  • your jaw, face or ear is painful
  • your partner says you make a grinding sound in your sleep

Because your dentist will be able to detect the signs of grinding.  Your dentist will also confirm whether you need any treatment, especially if the habit looks like causing further problems – for example an abscess or an infection.

If grinding is stress-related, your dental surgery will also be able to recommend ways in which you can relieve this.


A mouth guard or mouth splint to reduce wear and pain and avoid further damage

Muscle-relaxation exercises

CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy)

Sleep disorders which may cause bruxism:

Obstructive sleep apnoea

Talking or mumbling in your sleep

Kicking out or punching during sleep

A temporary inability to move or speak on waking or as you fall asleep


Note that if a child is grinding their teeth, it’s important that they see a dentist to make sure no damage is being done.

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