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Symptoms of TMJ: Grinding or Clenching Teeth while you Sleep Due to Stress

Treating Temporomandibular Dysfunction
Young man laying awake in bed

Grinding and clenching teeth while you sleep are issues often related to stress or anxiety. Even though you may not have symptoms of TMD, like facial pain or headaches, or be aware that you are even doing it, these behaviors can wear down your teeth over time. You need to address them early.

Teeth grinding and jaw clenching are also known as bruxism or Temporomandibular Dysfunction (TMD)—a dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) in the jaw.

Sleep bruxism is also called nocturnal tooth grinding. It is a common condition, suffered by approximately 8% of adults. Another survey shows that more than a third of parents report symptoms of grinding or clenching teeth in their children.

When it occurs occasionally, bruxism may not be harmful. When left unchecked, however, it can cause moderate to severe dental damage, facial pain and sleep disturbances.

The causes of grinding or clenching teeth while you sleep are unknown, but are often due to stress. They are also linked to anxiety, alcohol consumption, smoking, caffeine, snoring, fatigue and sleep apnea. Certain medications can also lead to bruxism in short episodes.

Symptoms that you are experiencing bruxism can include:

  • Dull, constant headache when you awaken
  • Earaches
  • Facial Pain
  • Sore Jaw
  • Jaw Joint Disorders
  • Damaged Teeth

Often, your dentist is the first to notice a change in your teeth. He or she may spot worn teeth, broken or misaligned teeth due to your bruxism. Without intervention, teeth can be worn down completely, leading to bridges, crowns, root canals, or dentures. A custom-fitted mouth guard that prevents teeth from touching while you sleep is often the answer.

You should address the stress that is related to grinding or clenching teeth to help alleviate any problems causing the behavior. If you’d like to talk to someone about your disorder, contact Airway & Sleep Group. We’ll be glad to help.

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