What is bruxism? It’s grinding, gnashing and clenching your teeth. There’s two kinds of bruxism: awake bruxism and a sleep bruxism. You may not think your jaws are very powerful, but think of the comparison of how hard it is for a human to bite through a finger: that it’s like biting through a carrot. Your jaws can cleave through a fair amount of flesh and bone with relative ease. When that strength is rested on your teeth, which are merely bone, you’re totally capable of grinding your molars to a pulp over time. Understanding bruxism is the first step to controlling your bruxism.

Sleep Bruxism

The main form of bruxism and the most dangerous kind is when you grind your teeth at night. It’s actually considered a sleep disorder and can sometimes cause snoring and sleep apnea if it gets serious enough. It can definitely lead to damaged teeth, jaw disorders and headaches, which is not great for anyone’s health. Unfortunately, unless you have a partner who can hear you grinding your teeth in the night, you probably won’t know if you are doing it or not. Knowing the general symptoms that are signs of bruxism might be your only way of identifying the problem and preventing any damage.


  • Fractured or flattened teeth
  • Loose or chipped teeth
  • Worn tooth enamel
  • Increased tooth pain and sensitivity
  • Tired and tight jaw muscles
  • Locked jaw that won’t open or close completely
  • Jaw, neck, and head pain
  • Damage on the inside of your teeth
  • Sleep disruption

Causes of Bruxism

Whether you grind your teeth when you are awake or asleep, bruxism is usually caused by anxiety and stress. The good thing about awake bruxism is that you can just practice not grinding your teeth, but it’s not so easy when you’re asleep. If you have an aggressive, hyperactive, or aggressive personality type, then you might be prone to feelings of anxiety and stress in your sleeping hours that often show themselves as bruxism. Some people even claim that certain medications have been known to cause bruxism at night. Mainly, this is a side effect of antidepressants. In that same respect, tobacco use, as well as caffeinated beverages, alcohol and drugs, are known to cause teeth grinding symptoms as well. If you have family members who often grind their teeth at night, you most likely do too. At times, bruxism in and of itself is a sign of something wrong beyond just grinding your teeth. People with Parkinson’s disease, gastroesophageal reflux order, and dementia, as well as epilepsy, ADHD and sleep disorders, often suffer from bruxism as well.

Contact Bitterroot Dental in Missoula

If you’re concerned about your symptoms of bruxism, there’s only one thing to do: go to your doctor. If you or your loved ones are suffering from the negative effects of grinding teeth, it’s best not to wait until a tooth comes loose or becomes fractured. Rather than suffer the headaches and potential tooth damage any longer, come to Bitterroot Dental. We provide night guards and other solutions for grinding your teeth that will free you from the pain of the future and of the present. Contact us to book your appointment today.