What Are the Symptoms of Teeth Grinding?

Bruxism, or teeth grinding comes with a wide variety of symptoms.  However if you are asking yourself what are the symptoms of teeth grinding, then the most common sign is damage to teeth. The teeth of most people who suffer from bruxism look worn.

Damaged teeth

If you look in the mirror at your teeth it should become pretty obvious if they look flattened down and they may also be chipped around the edges.  There may also be fine cracks in your teeth and fillings may be damaged.  This is because the biting force of your teeth can exert up to 250 pounds of pressure per square inch, and combined with the grinding action will eventually wear down teeth.

This constant grinding will erode the tooth enamel.  Enamel is the protective outer layer over the surface of the tooth, and is one of the hardest substances in the human body.  However it will be worn away with the constant tooth grinding and this will expose the sensitive layers of dentin underneath.

As the dentin is exposed teeth may begin to feel more sensitive.  This is because dentin consists of lots of little tubules which lead directly to the nerves in the tooth which are located in the pulp in the center of the tooth.  Whenever you eat or drink something hot or cold you are exposing the nerves to this sensation.

Bruxism can also affect the gums causing them to recede due to the pressure on the gum margins.  Teeth may even loosen due to the grinding effects which can lead to gum pockets developing around the teeth.  If the gums are no longer tight around the teeth it leaves the area open to infection from bacteria.

Additional symptoms of bruxism

Having a Sore Jaw

Additional symptoms can include waking up with a sore jaw each morning.  In extreme cases bruxers may notice that their jaw clicks or pops when they move it in certain directions and that it is extremely difficult to open the mouth fully, which can make eating and drinking a problem. The joint in the jaw is called the temporomandibular joint, and is extremely sensitive to stress in this area.  Bruxism can cause a disorder in this joint which in turn affects the surrounding areas in the face.

Waking up with a headache

This is an extremely common symptom as the repeated contractions of the muscles around the mouth and jaw affect the temporal area.  It can cause tension headaches which leaves a dull ache throughout the day.


In the same way that the contractions of the muscles in the jaw affect the temporal region, they also affect the region around the ear and can create quite painful ear aches.

Neck and shoulder ache

Neck and shoulder ache is also common when bruxism is caused by stress, as it highly likely that the muscles in this region will be too tight, and the effect of clenching and grinding the jaw creates stress in this area.

Sufferers from teeth grinding may also be aware that they are doing it due to the noise created by grinding teeth.  They may also have had complaints from sleeping partners.

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