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Stress, Bruxism, and Dental Checkups: Protecting Your Teeth from Unconscious Grinding

Stress, Bruxism, and Dental Checkups

Sleep bruxism is considered a sleep-related movement disorder. People who clench or grind their teeth (brux) during sleep are more likely to have other sleep disorders, such as snoring and pauses in breathing (sleep apnea).

Mild bruxism may not require treatment. However, in some people, it can be frequent and severe enough to lead to jaw disorders, headaches, damaged teeth and other problems. Because you may have sleep bruxism and be unaware of it until complications develop, it’s important to know the signs and symptoms of bruxism and to seek regular dental care.

that addressing stress is a fundamental aspect of managing bruxism. By taking steps to reduce stress and seeking professional guidance when necessary, you can protect your teeth and oral health from the damaging effects of bruxism. Regular dental checkups and open communication with your dentist are key to identifying and managing any dental issues related to bruxism.

Teeth grinding may not be noticeable to many especially when it occurs during sleep, but some of the signs and symptoms that can suspect teeth grinding may include:

  1. headaches and migraines in the morning
  2. interrupted sleep
  3. pain around the ears
  4. loose or painful teeth
  5. tired and aching jaw muscles
  6. locked jaw, where you have a hard time opening your mouth
  7. fractured or chipped teeth
  8. Temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which produces a clicking noise in the jaw
  9. difficulty eating
  10. jaw clenching

What are the long-term effects of bruxism?

  • Long-term damage from bruxism may cause:
  • tooth sensitivity, due to enamel wearing away
  • gum inflammation or bleeding
  • loose teeth
  • damage to dental work, such as crowns and fillings
  • flattened or short teeth
  • tooth fractures
  • TMJ syndrome, which causes pain, tension, and difficulty chewing


  • A dentist can diagnose bruxism by performing a dental examination. They may notice:
  • worn tooth enamel
  • flattened, fractured, or chipped teeth
  • loose or damaged crowns and fillings
  • enlarged jaw muscles

Tooth wear can also result from overly vigorous brushing, abrasives in toothpaste, acidic soft drinks, and hard foods, but a trained professional can tell the difference between the characteristic wear patterns of each cause.


  • People with primary bruxism may be able to reduce or prevent the symptoms by practicing self-care. For example, they can try:
  • avoiding alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine
  • refraining from chewing gum, as this may increase wear and tear or encourage more grinding
  • applying gentle heat to the jaw to relieve pain and tension
  • reducing avoidable stress and taking steps to manage unavoidable stress
  • Stress can be brought on by external situations and events, but it can also result from how individuals interpret those events. There are strategies to manage it in either situation.
  • Finding support, scheduling downtime, and engaging in mindfulness exercises can all be beneficial.
  • If you think you may have bruxism, it’s important to see your dentist so they can diagnose the condition and develop a treatment plan. Left untreated, bruxism can lead to serious oral health problems.


  • The treatment for bruxism depends on the severity of the condition. In mild cases, no treatment may be necessary. Treatment can include:
  • Mouth guards: Wearing a mouthguard at night can help to protect the teeth from grinding.
  • Stress management: Learning how to manage stress can help to reduce teeth grinding.
  • Orthodontic treatment: In some situations, orthodontic care can assist to better align the jaw and teeth, which helps lessen bruxism.
  • Botox injections: Injections of botulinum toxin (Botox) into the jaw muscles may help to relax the muscles and reduce teeth grinding.
  • Surgery: In severe cases, surgery may be needed to correct jaw problems.

Is Teeth Grinding Serious?

Involuntary teeth grinding can impose risk factors when left untreated. Aside from tooth damage, TMJ disorders, and muscle tensions, it could also affect your mental health especially if you are not getting a proper amount of sleep.

Other psychological reports show that individuals suffering from teeth grinding had higher risks of anxiety and depression compared to those who are not experiencing it.


Which medication may lead to bruxism?’

There have been case reports of drug-induced bruxism caused by atomoxetine, a non-stimulant, and methylphenidate, a stimulant. These are medications used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and attention deficit disorder (ADD). These medications can cause both awake and sleep bruxism

How can I stop stress naturally?

Put your eyes closed, inhale deeply, stretch, or meditate. 
 Write three things you are grateful for. Check in with yourself—take time to ask yourself how you are feeling. Laugh!

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