Clenching, or grinding of teeth, most often at night, is a common problem for many adults and children. According to the Canadian Sleep Society, approximately 8% of adults and close to 13% of children experience sleep bruxism.

Causes: Anxiety, stress, disrupted sleep, misaligned and/or missing teeth are among the causes. More often than not those that clench, grind or gnash their teeth are not even aware they are doing it.

Signs: In many cases sound is the first indicator, as a partner and/or parent (of a child) hears the grinding. Other signs may include:

  • Headaches
  • Earaches
  • Tooth Sensitivity
  • Pain, either in the teeth or the jaws

How it affects your dental health

When you clench and/or grind, your teeth exert a huge amount of pressure on your teeth. Prolonged bruxism can lead to cracked, chipped, broken or loose teeth, or damage to the temporomandibular joint of the jaws.

Diagnosing Bruxism

Through regular dental visits, your dentist will monitor your mouth including any irregular wear on the surfaces of your teeth. It's important to let your dentist know if you've experienced any unusual or increased sensitivity or pain in your head and neck area. This can help to diagnose bruxism early, and limit any damage to your mouth.

Prevention - what you can do

  • If you tend to grind or clench your teeth while awake, try to be aware of this and make an effort to correct the behaviour as it occurs. Your teeth should always be apart during the day.
  • Find stress reducing activities such as exercise, reading or listening to music.
  • Limit caffeine or alcohol and find ways to relax before bedtime to sleep better.
  • If bruxism results from misaligned, missing teeth, your dentist may recommend treatment to correct these problems.
  • Your dentist may also recommend wearing a custom-fit nightguard. A nightguard works to reduce the pressure on the teeth,and protect them from wear.