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How to Treat and Prevent Pain from Grinding Teeth

Coping with stress and anxiety is never easy, and sometimes it can manifest through grinding your teeth at night. Can grinding teeth cause pain? Yes. Often, grinding your teeth at night, which is also called bruxism, can cause pain, like headaches, jaw pain, or sore teeth. Misaligned teeth or an abnormal bite can also cause it. No matter the cause, there are methods to treat symptoms and prevent teeth grinding pain—so you can get back to smiling more confidently without any headaches, soreness, or discomfort.

What is Bruxism?

Bruxism is a condition in which you grind or clench your teeth, and it can happen when you’re awake or asleep. It’s also fairly common—<according to a 2016 article published in the Journal of Conservative Dentistry, frequent sleep bruxism happens to about 13% of adults. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of bruxism include:

  • Grinding your clenching your teeth during sleep, which could even be loud enough to wake up a partner
  • Flattened, fractured, chipped, or loose teeth
  • Tooth pain or sensitivity
  • Tight or tired jaw muscles, or a locked jaw
  • Pain or soreness in the jaw, neck, or face
  • Pain in your ear
  • A dull headache in your temples

When it comes to the causes of grinding teeth pain, it can be a matter of stress and anxiety or sleep disorders. However, there may be other causes. According to a 2016 study published in the American Journal Dental Association, tobacco, alcohol use, and heavy coffee drinking (over 8 cups a day) are also bruxism factors to consider.

Further, other factors may play into your risk of bruxism: anger and frustration can be causes. Age is also a consideration, as bruxism is common among young children. Medications, family members with bruxism, and other mental health and medical disorders can potentially contribute to teeth grinding. 

Bruxism is also associated with TMJ disorder, or temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), which happens when the system of muscles, ligaments, discs, and bones in your jaw muscles and joints are tender, clicking, or have difficulty moving. A dental professional will be able to determine if your teeth grinding pain is associated with TMJ disorder.

So, how long does teeth grinding pain last? It depends on the cause and severity of your specific case. If you are experiencing pain from teeth grinding, chat with your dentist to get the best treatment plan.

Ways to Combat This Problem

There are several ways to treat teeth grinding pain; it’s just a matter of talking to your dentist about your symptoms and what might be the cause. Luckily, in most cases, bruxism does not require a treatment plan—especially in children, who typically outgrow it. But if your symptoms are severe, your dentist may recommend a mouthguard, which keeps teeth separate to avoid grinding and clenching. Depending on your preference, mouthguards can either come in the form of hard acrylic or soft materials.

Since stress can cause bruxism, other treatments may involve simple mental health practices like meditation, counseling, or other stress and anxiety management forms. Your dentist may also recommend practicing adjusting the position and behavior of your mouth and jaw. Because sleep-related disorders and medications can also affect teeth grinding, talking to your dentist about your pre-existing conditions or medications can help them determine the best treatment plan.

Can Children Have a Tooth Grinding Habit?

While teeth grinding with children is common and typically fades with age, you may want to consider talking to their dentist about getting an evaluation. There are many causes of bruxism in children. According to a 2018 article published in the Journal of Dental Health, Oral Disorders & Therapy, causes of childhood teeth grinding can range from allergies to nutritional deficiencies to psychological factors like stress and anxiety.

If your child may be grinding their teeth due to stress, helping them relax may be a simple way to reduce this behavior. A warm bath, gentle massage, or bedtime story may be the perfect fix to help soothe your child into a more restful sleep with less grinding.

While it’s a common behavior, teeth grinding can be painful—but know that treatments are available, and you can take preventative measures. The first step is talking to your dentist to identify the cause and figure out the best plan.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek your dentist's advice or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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