Teeth Grinding

Tooth grinding, also known as bruxism, is clenching or grinding your teeth, often without being aware that you are doing it. Teeth grinding is caused by the activation of reflex chewing activity; it is not a learned habit. In the United States, bruxism affects an estimated 30 to 40 million children and adults.

Some people grind their teeth only during sleep. This condition is called “nocturnal bruxism” or “sleep-related bruxism.” This happens because during sleep, the reflex part of chewing is still active while the higher control is inactive, resulting in teeth grinding. Teeth Grinding often occurs during sleep and can even occur during short naps. In fact, bruxism is one of the most common sleep disorders: 30 to 40 million Americans grind their teeth during sleep. Teeth grinding can even be loud enough to wake a sleeping partner!

Others grind their teeth during the daytime as well, most often during situations that make them feel tense or anxious. In most people, teeth grinding is mild enough not to be a health problem; however, some people suffer from significant teeth grinding that can become symptomatic.

What Causes Teeth Grinding?

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Joint & Muscle Dysfunction
  • Sleep Disorder Breathing
  • Parafunctional Habits

Bruxism can have a variety of psychological and physical causes. In many cases, it has been linked to stress, but it can also simply be the body’s reaction to the teeth being aligned wrong or a poor bite.

What Can Occur With Severe Teeth Grinding?

  • Chipped or Fracture Tooth
  • Increased Tooth Sensitivity
  • Tired Muscles Or Soreness Around The Jaw Area
  • Worn Out Tooth Enamel
  • Pain On The Face

Treatment For Teeth Grinding:


Ongoing management of teeth grinding is based on minimizing the abrasion of tooth surfaces by the wearing of an acrylic dental guard or splint, designed to the shape of an individual’s upper or lower teeth from a bite mold. Mouth guards are obtained through visits to a dentist for measuring, fitting, and ongoing supervision.


Bruxism is frequently caused by stress or anxiety, so one help­ful approach is simply to manage these emotions. Use relax­ation techniques like meditation to decrease stress and manage anxiety, and keep your teeth healthy in the process. Avoiding stimulating substances in the evening is also a great way to combat bruxism.


While medications aren’t a very effective form of treatment for bruxism, they can be helpful. Certain things, like muscle relax­ants and even botox injections, can help people with severe bruxism who do not respond to other treatments.


Dental exams are, hands-down, the best way to identify and treat bruxism. Your dentist will be able to spot signs of wear on the dental surface, and come up with a plan to help you protect your mouth and jaw.


There are four possible goals when treating teeth grinding with a dental guard or splint:

  • Constraint of the grinding pattern such that serious damage to the temporomandibular joints is prevented
  • Stabilization of the occlusion by minimizing the gradual changes to the positions of the teeth that typically occur with grinding
  • Prevention of tooth damage
  • The enabling of a grinding practitioner to judge — in broad terms — the extent and patterns of grinding, through examination of the physical indentations on the surface of the splint. A dental guard is typically worn on a long-term basis during every night’s sleep.


Dr. Mishaan and his staff would be happy to discuss your options to alleviate the stress and pain caused by teeth grinding. Please feel free to call (212.730.4440) our office for a private consultation or any questions you may have. Or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Mishaan. The investment you make in caring for your mouth, teeth and gums will pay dividends for years to come.


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Midtown Dental Group

241 West 37th Street
New York, NY 10018
(212) 764-7226

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New York, NY 10065
(212) 764-7226

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New York, NY 10001
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