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When is teeth grinding (bruxism) serious?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner
Teeth grinding is not dangerous, but leaving it untreated can have serious consequences, such as permanent tooth damage. Bruxism can cause jaw or face pain, headaches, and earaches. More severe cases of teeth grinding can lead to temporomandibular joint and muscle disorder (often referred to as TMJ).
Bruxism, unconsciously grinding or clenching the teeth during the day or at night while asleep, is a common problem that can affect all ages.

In children, bruxism is usually mild and usually disappears by the teenage years. Bruxism is often triggered by stress, so if your child is grinding his teeth, it may be a good time to talk with your child about any changes in his life that may be causing stress, such as a move, a new school, or a new teacher.

Adults may not be aware that they are grinding or clenching their teeth until a friend or family member notices it. However, persistent teeth grinding can lead to health complications, including:
  • pain in the jaw and facial muscles
  • reoccurring headaches
  • chipped or unevenly worn teeth
  • problems with your jaw joint (also called the TMJ), such as popping or clicking sounds when you open or close your mouth
If you have any of these symptoms and are worried about teeth grinding, call your dentist or doctor. He or she will answer your questions and will suggest treatment options, including techniques to help relieve stress.

Teeth grinding, or bruxism, it not serious in itself but it can sometimes lead to serious consequences for your mouth.

People who suffer from bruxism may have the following symptoms:
  • headache
  • sore jaw
  • frequent toothaches
  • facial pain
  • worn or cracked teeth or fillings
  • loose teeth
  • earache
  • insomnia
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.

Continue Learning about Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)

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.