What is sleep bruxism?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Sleep bruxism is the term used to describe teeth grinding and clenching that happens when a person sleeps. As many as eight percent of adults and one third of children may experience sleep bruxism, making it a common condition. Just like day time teeth grinding, the result can be tooth damage and facial pain. However, it also results in disturbed sleep for many.

Sleep bruxism is the term that describes the habit of grinding or clenching the teeth at night while you sleep. The causes of bruxism are not known but many believe that stress, sleep disorders and an abnormal bite all play a role.  

If you suspect you are grinding your teeth, schedule an appointment with your dentist. Your dentist can help you manage bruxism and its related symptoms, as well as repair and help prevent further damage to your teeth.
Sleep bruxism, is a parafunctional (out of the realm of normal function) teeth grinding oral habit that occurs while sleeping. Most of the time the person is unaware that this is occurring, However, the noise from grinding is often observed by the person lying next to the person who has sleep bruxism, and can it be very disturbing to sleep patterns. When this damaging habit continues, the sleep bruxer may become symptomatic including advanced teeth wear, soreness to the muscles on the side of the jaw and head, and increased teeth sensitivity.
Sleep bruxism is a condition that causes people to grind and clench their teeth while they're sleeping. No one is sure what causes sleep bruxism, however studies show that people who have chronic stress and anxiety are more likely to grind their teeth at night. Smoking and drinking coffee and other high-caffeine products may increase your risk of sleep bruxism as well. Sleep bruxism can damage your teeth, including crowns and other dental restorations, and cause jaw pain and headaches. If you suspect that you grind your teeth at night, tell your dentist or family doctor.
Sleep Bruxism is either jaw clentching or teeth grinding while asleep. This can be due to stress, medications, or medical issues. Over time this can cause jaw pain, tooth dammage, and in some cases insomnia. Teeth grinding is normal in children up to about age 6.

Sleep bruxism is a sleep related movement disorder similar to other movements during sleep such as periodic leg movements. The activity seems to be related to events in sleep known as arousals. Sleep bruxism has little to no relationship to how the teeth fit together. Factors such as stress, hormones, and medications may have an effect on sleep bruxism. It is a multifactorial issue with no clear cause at this time.

Sleep bruxism is the grinding or clenching of teeth during sleep. There are two known causes: sleep apnea and stress. There are many people were the cause cannot be determined.

Continue Learning about Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.