I Grind My Teeth When I Sleep: Can You Help?

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Teeth are incredibly strong but habits like teeth grinding can wear them down dramatically. Teeth grinding can threaten your dental health, so it’s a good idea to see a dentist about it as soon as possible.

Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is more than an undesirable habit, it’s a dental issue. Most people are unaware that they grind their teeth, but an experienced dentist can tell there’s a problem when checking out your teeth during a dental exam. 

Regularly grinding your teeth wears down the surfaces. Continuous teeth grinding causes excessive dental wear and can cause dental fractures, tooth misalignment, and severe jaw pain. 

At Preva Dental in San Antonio, Texas, general and cosmetic dentistry specialist Prathima Rasamsetty, DDS believes in the importance of sharing knowledge with patients to maintain the best oral health over a lifetime. 

Here’s what we want you to know about the causes and treatments for teeth grinding.

What boosts teeth grinding risk?

There are a number of factors that increase your risk of bruxism:

Elevated stress

Increased stress can lead to teeth grinding, and this can happen while you’re awake and when you’re sleeping. Psychological stress can cause tension throughout the body, including the mouth and jaw. A small study found a link between teeth grinding and higher levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. Additionally, having an anxiety disorder increases the risk of bruxism. 

Sleep apnea

In adults, sleep apnea is found to be an important risk factor for bruxism, according to a systematic review. Sleep apnea causes brief, but frequent pauses in breathing throughout the night. If you have risk factors for sleep apnea, such as being overweight, consider having a sleep study to evaluate you for sleep apnea. Custom dental appliances designed to move the lower jaw forward are shown to significantly reduce sleep apnea episodes. 

Family history

Bruxism tends to run in families, leading researchers to theorize that there may be a genetic component. If a close relative has bruxism, you have an increased risk of teeth grinding, too.

Other disorders

There are various other conditions associated with grinding your teeth. These include Parkinson's disease, gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), epilepsy, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). If you’re diagnosed with any of these, the likelihood of bruxism is higher.

Teeth grinding symptoms

If you have bruxism, you may experience:

  • Head pain
  • Facial pain
  • Jaw pain
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Cracked teeth

Teeth grinding also wears down the teeth, making them shorter. 

Treating bruxism

There are a number of different dental treatments that can help stop bruxism or alleviate its symptoms. Some of these are:

Oral appliances

Mouthguards are a type of splint that fit over your teeth, and provide a cushion and barrier. This prevents your top and bottom teeth from grinding against each other. Mouthguards can also help alleviate the pain and stiffness of TMD.

Custom mouthguards are designed for your individual bite, making them superior to over-the-counter options. We can take a mold of your teeth and provide you with a custom-made mouthguard that will fit perfectly and comfortably to relieve your symptoms.

Reductive coronoplasty

We use this procedure to reshape the biting surface of your teeth so there’s less pressure if you clench your teeth together. This is most effective for patients who have crowding or misaligned teeth due to bruxism.


Botox isn’t just for smoothing wrinkles. It’s also shown to reduce bruxism and pain associated with teeth grinding. If Botox is appropriate for you, we’ll inject a small amount into the large muscle that moves your jaw (masseter). 

Botox doesn’t cure bruxism but it can temporarily relax the muscle. Repeat injections every four months are needed to maintain the benefits. 

Do you believe you may be grinding your teeth? Dr. will be glad to check. During your usual twice-a-year cleaning and dental checkup, we search for changes in your teeth that can indicate tooth grinding, like worn enamel on tooth surfaces or chipped teeth. Schedule your visit with Dr. Rasamsetty today by calling our San Antonio office or sending a booking request here on our website.