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Sleep Bruxism: How Can It be Fixed?

Dentist Chatham

Bruxism is a medical term for when a person grinds or clenches their teeth either during sleep or even while awake and resting. Teeth grinding involves making a chewing motion in which the teeth rub against each other. On the other hand, clenching is when a person holds their teeth together and clenches the muscles without moving the teeth back and forth. Bruxism occurs during sleep in most cases, but it can also happen while awake. The person is usually not consciously aware that they are doing it, but the effects are very much present. 

Let’s dive a little deeper into the Signs, Causes, Effects, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Bruxism.

Signs of Sleep Bruxism

Sleep bruxism is a type of sleep disorder that has many symptoms, including the following:

  • Facial pain;
  • Jaw pain and stiffness;
  • Clicking, popping, or grinding noises when moving the jaw;
  • A dull headache;
  • Sensitive, loose, or broken teeth;
  • Worn teeth;
  • Broken or loose fillings.

Awake Bruxism

As its name indicates, awake bruxism is very different from sleep bruxism. Since it is not a sleep disorder, it is considered an unconscious habit instead.

Awake bruxism does not often cause teeth grinding. Those who have it will instead clench their teeth or tense the muscles around the jaw. Awake bruxism also causes aching around the jaw, dull headaches, and stiffness. However, in situations where there is no grinding, the condition may not wear the teeth to the same extent. Similar to sleep bruxism, awake bruxism does not happen voluntarily. People may notice that they tend to experience it when they are either concentrating on something or feeling stressed.

What Causes Bruxism?

Bruxism does not always have a single or identifiable cause, but a number of factors are associated with it. These factors also depend on if the individual is experiencing primary or secondary bruxism. 

Primary Bruxism

Primary bruxism occurs on its own. Some factors that contribute to it are growing teeth, misaligned bites, stress, smoking, alcohol, and caffeine.

Secondary Bruxism

Secondary bruxism happens due to another medical condition or circumstance. This can include mental health conditions, neurological conditions, medications, and sleep apnea.

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, causes pain, tension, and difficulty chewing.


A Chatham or Leamington dentist can diagnose bruxism by performing a dental examination. When doing so, they may notice:

  • Worn tooth enamel;
  • Flattened, fractured, or chipped teeth;
  • Loose or damaged crowns and fillings;
  • Enlarged jaw muscles.


Fortunately, there are various treatments and strategies that may help with bruxism. These include:

  • Mouthguard or mouth splint;
  • Medication;
  • Biofeedback;
  • Botox.

After reading this blog, you should have an understanding of sleep bruxism. However, we still recommend visiting your local dentist in Chatham or Leamington for proper diagnosis and treatment.

If you live in Chatham or Leamington, Ontario, and are looking for a dental clinic, drop by Brookside Family Dental! We give our patients quality comprehensive dental services, including family dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, dental implants, sedation, and more! Call 226-494-4000 and book your appointment today!

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