Nighttime Grinding (Bruxism)

The Real Reason You Grind Your Teeth

The answer to why you grind your teeth used to be stress or a bad bite, but the newest research shows that it's due to interrupted sleep breathing.

by Dr. Burhenne

The Real Reason You Grind Your Teeth

Until recently, teeth grinding had been a mystery amongst doctors and dentists. The working theory used to be that grinding was caused by stress, but then again, this didn’t explain why we see that a fetus in utero grinds their teeth — and so, grinding remained a mystery among dentists, doctors, and researchers.

But thanks to the latest research, it’s now accepted that grinding is an instinctual response that helps us survive.

This powerful new research has flipped on its head how we both treat grinding and how we think about diagnosing sleep apnea.

For more, check out my #1 bestselling book The 8-Hour Sleep Paradox.

Why You Grind Your Teeth at Night

During the night, the brain cycles through lighter and deeper stages of sleep.

As the brain approaches deep sleep, all the muscles in the body have to fully let go and relax. This easily causes trouble for the airway — the jaw is heavy and easily blocks the airway and the tongue, when fully relaxed, expands to almost twice its size to block the airway as well.

Researchers studied brain scans of people with partial blockage in their airways while they slept and what they noticed is that it was grinding (also called bruxism) that reopened the airway and got the study participants breathing again.

As soon as they were given something to keep their airway open all night long — like a CPAP machine or a dental appliance that held the jaw in place so the tongue and jaw don’t block the airway — their grinding stopped and so did the “apneic” events, or the loss of breathing during sleep.

The Real Consequences of Grinding

If grinding is what saves us, then what’s wrong with it?

While grinding is effective at saving us at night, there are consequences to having interrupted sleep every night.

You’re not sleeping well if you grind your teeth. Even with slight sleep apnea, you’re waking up in a damaged state. Tensing up the muscles to grind bounces the body out of deep sleep, and all the health benefits of sleep you read about come from deep sleep. This is where human growth hormone (HGH) is released, reversing the aging process, tightening skin, improving memory, burning fat, and building muscle, and potentially warding off diseases like Alzheimer’s. Untreated sleep apnea can have serious and life-shortening consequences like high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, automobile accidents, diabetes, depression, anxiety, and weight gain. Don’t fall into the eight hour trap — just because you’re unconscious for eight hours, doesn’t mean it’s quality sleep.

Damages our teeth and jaw joint. Years of grinding and clenching can damage your teeth, cause tooth decay and tooth sensitivity, and lead to permanent jaw pain and damage to the jaw point.

A mouth guard makes things worse. A mouth guard is put in place to protect the teeth from grinding, but since it can reposition the jaw, it can actually make the obstruction of the airway worse (more on this in a bit).

Bruxism: the New Red Flag for Sleep Apnea

Grinding is the new indicator for obstructive sleep apnea.

If you grind your teeth, the new standard of care is that you get a sleep study because you are likely having episodes of interrupted breathing during the night and missing out on all the health benefits of deep stage sleep.

Even if you’re otherwise healthy, sleep apnea is known to significantly increase your risk of high blood pressure, stroke, cancer, diabetes, depression, and obesity.

A Swedish study estimated that as many as half of women aged 20 to 70 suffer from some degree of sleep apnea — which can range from slight to severe. The old idea of an obese, middle-aged man who snores is no longer what we should think of when it comes to sleep apnea.

The New At Risk Groups for Sleep Apnea

  • Petite women
  • Children with ADHD and other learning disabilities
  • People with a long neck
  • People who did not breastfeed as infants
  • People with anxiety and depression
  • Anyone who grinds their teeth at night

The New Way to Treat Grinding

Treating Sources, Not Symptoms

Treating the airway cures teeth grinding.

To treat grinding, you have to treat the source of what’s causing it, and that’s a small airway.

If you grind your teeth, you might have been told that you need to sleep with a mouthguard to protect your teeth from wear and tear — and that’s based on the old standard of care.

Not treating teeth grinding can lead to excessive wear and tear on teeth, leading to tooth decay, periodontal tissue damage, jaw pain, and headaches.

The new understanding is that, in order to treat teeth grinding, you have to treat the root cause that is causing you to grind your teeth — and that’s the obstruction of the airway.

Once you remove the need to grind, teeth grinding stops.

If you grind your teeth, it should be considered first due to its seriousness that you likely have a small airway and the reason you’re grinding is to open your collapsed airway while you’re sleeping.

In fact, wearing a mouth guard to protect your teeth from grinding may even make you grind more, since a mouth guard repositions the jaw in such a way that the airway could be getting blocked more than it would be without the mouth guard.

Treating Grinding With a Mouth Guard: More Harm Than Good?

But how do you know if you grind your teeth if you’re asleep when you’re doing it?

Most people don’t know that they grind their teeth until their dentist tells them.

How to Know If You’re Grinding Your Teeth

  • Wear on your teeth
  • Teeth that are worn flat
  • Abfractions
  • Sore muscles
  • TMJ pain
  • A jaw that clicks

What to Do If You Grind Your Teeth

  • Talk to your dentist. Your dentist can’t make the diagnosis — she or he will leave that to the sleep medicine MD, but your dentist can screen you for teeth grinding and examine the beginning of your airway as you lie flat in the chair at your next appointment. There is an oral appliance your dentist can make for you that keeps the airway open while you sleep, which can work great in conjunction with a CPAP machine or even by itself in mild cases.
  • Find out if you grind your teeth. The telltale signs of a grinder are flat, worn teeth, jaw clicking, or jaw pain. Ask your dentist to be sure.
  • Talk to your doctor about getting a sleep study. Ultimately, you will need a sleep study to get a diagnosis for sleep apnea from a sleep specialist.
  • Reconsider the night guard. This is the old way of thinking and, even though it’s protecting your teeth, your night guard could even make your sleep apnea worse.
  • Read my bookThe 8-Hour Sleep Paradox, which is my 3-step program to breathe better at night so you unlock the kind of sleep that helps you slow down the aging process, lose weight, wake up happy and refreshed, improve energy levels and concentration, and beat brain fog. See what Dr. Mark Hyman and Gretchen Rubin had to say about the book.

Mark Burhenne DDS

Juggling all the pieces of your health is hard...

But I can definitely help with what's going on in your mouth. Leave your email address below, and I'll share 7 Insider Secrets that your dentist probably isn't telling you—and that could be keeping you from optimal oral and dental health.

Dr. Mark Burhenne DDS

75 Comments

Leave a Comment

  1. Thank you so much for this information. I have been clenching my teeth in my sleep for over 10 years, unsettled sleeping. I had a mouth guard made but it hasn’t helped – my teeth are not damaged but my jaw is always tight and clicks on one side. Can’t remember last good sleep I had, tired of taking pain killers for headaches and neck tension. I’ve just got a referral to get tested for sleep apnea, your explanation makes perfect sense so hopefully I’ll get the the bottom of this!
    Cheers
    Trina 🙂

    • Trina, I’m so glad to hear you’ve gotten a referral. Your neck pain might even go away after you get sleep disordered breathing treated, as the neck tenses up when we struggle to breathe at night — specifically, lifting the neck off the pillow. Thanks for taking the time to share your comments. I’m so glad that this article has helped you. Take care and thanks for reading!

    • Hi Mark,
      About me:
      I have had good teeth by gens from my parents, but my bruxism is severe, that my teeth started moving and roots of some teeth exposed and teeth now are very sensitive. My dentist applied patches on exposed roots of teeth cervicals.
      Now I go through ortho treatment using invisalign that moves my teeth, BUT even with both upper and lower retainers I still grind my teeth, so edges of front teeth now look like sharp razors that cracks and chips.
      Conclusion: retainers and night guard do not save teeth from grinding!!!

      About my mom:
      She grinded her teeth at night. She got night guard on upper jaw only. She did grind her teeth against night guard.
      Then she was diagnosed with severe sleep apnea. She was prescribed CPAP machine.
      She’s been using CPAP machine for few years, every night, all night long, BUT she still grinds her teeth at night as her front teeth edges get chipped and thin!!!
      Conclusion: Opening airway at night does not remove bruxism problem!!!!

    • Hi Trina,
      I am going through what you went through, I wake up with headaches, a stiff neck, and feeling tired. I know that sometimes I wake up and my teeth are clenched, and my jaw clicks too. What did you end up doing? Do you have any recommendations for me? Thank you!

  2. Thanks Mark. Very interesting. Have you got a link to the bruxism and sleep apnea research article you referenced? I would love to read more about it. Cheers

      • I was looking for that link too. If that’s the research you were talking about, then I don’t understand how you came up with the conclusion that sleep bruxism is caused by sleep apnea.

        The article clearly states: “However, before dental practitioners assume a direct role of respiration or a cause-and-effect relation between breathing disorders and sleep bruxism, more robust evidence is required.”

        • It’s becoming clear that sleep bruxism and sleep disordered breathing often coexist. In my practice it’s a reliable marker/diagnostic justifying asking the primary to prescribe a sleep study. Of the 3% that comeback without a diagnosis for SDB, I believe a variant of SDB that is difficult to catch, like UARS, was missed in the testing. Of course there are many other things we look for as well, and when the cluster presents itself, it’s very clear when it’s time to refer. This article is simply trying to shed new light on bruxism and to empower readers so that they may ask the right questions next time they see their dentist. Listed below is a good comprehensive study on the subject.

          http://www.learnairwaydentistry.com/references/Bruxism.pdf

          • Again, in this artice as well: “The clinician has to be cautious in assuming causality just because treatment of SDB improves SB-TG in some patients. Individual differences in the era of personalized medicine prevent us from rapidly concluding on cause-and-effect relationships to be generalized to the whole population.”

            Coexistence does not prove cause-and-effect; i.e, correlation does not imply causation. Not to say there isn’t a link, and that it shouldn’t affect how a doctor provides a treatment for the patient, but this post here suggests a certainty in knowing the cause for sleep bruxism — a claim which is not supported by the linked articles.

  3. Hi Mark,

    Now I understand why I never could sleep with the night gard on.
    But I don’t really see a solution for not wearing the night guard in the article.
    Personally ai think teeth grinding is stress related. At least for a big part.
    Ever heard of Body Stress Release?
    I went there and since then, at least at night I no longer grind. I know, because my teeth are no longer polished in the morning.
    I’m so grateful for that.

    • Certainly, stress is a big part of it. Stress is also a large part of interrupted sleep breathing. I find it fascinating how it’s all very interconnected. Never heard of Body Stress Release, what is it?

  4. Hi Mark,

    Now I understand why I never could sleep with the night gard on.
    But I don’t really see a solution for not wearing the night guard in the article.
    Personally ai think teeth grinding is stress related. At least for a big part.
    Ever heard of Body Stress Release?
    I went there and since then, at least at night I no longer grind. I know, because my teeth are no longer polished in the morning.
    I’m so grateful for that.

  5. Hi Mark,

    So how would you go about ensuring the airway is not obstructed ?

    As far as I know, I no longer grind my teeth but still have lockjaw and my 5.5yr old son often grinds his during sleep.

    I would like to find a solution for him that is as uninvasive as possible.

    Thank you

  6. Dr. Burhenne,
    I am a dental hygienist in Texas and bruxism has recently become my personal crusade. My five year old was diagnosed with mild to moderate sleep apnea following a sleep study after I caught him grinding. I see 8 patients a day and have to discuss grinding with almost every single one. I am aware of the correlation between bruxism and sleep apnea in children (along with misdiagnosis of ADD & ADHD) but I did not know about the link between HBP, stroke, and cancer in adults. I have been recommending night guards to patients due to TMJ damage, abfraction, mobility, sensitivity, and risk of tooth fractures. I feel terrible to know that this treatment may not be the right thing to do! I have also recommended sleep studies for many of my patients based on the severity of their bruxism. In my experience, I feel that some patients clench more than they grind (based on observations of deep abfractions, clinical attachment loss, PDL widening, and wear facets), are these patients not benefiting from night guards as well or is it only bruxers? Additionally, I’ve had several patients in recent memory tell me that they’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea, use a CPAP, but still grind. What else could be causing their grinding? Thank you for the great info in this post, I really appreciate being able to inform my patients.

    Amanda P., RDH

    • I also have a sleep cpap but I still grind my teeth at night I have woke up and found myself grinding my teeth I feel so bad when I wake up that I do not want to go back to sleep my heart be racing It feel like I have been racing or something heavy is sitting on my chest. It can take hours to feel normal again and I have the headaches . What can I do with the cpap and gridding.

  7. I have had TMJ jaw tension and pain since 2012, I started to notice the symptoms while under severe stress at UCLA. I got sick and delirious then when I came to my jaw was in sharp electrifying pain. They gave me muscle relaxers and a mouthguard, and this is UCLA medical. I finally understood that they did not full know what’s going on and could only treat the pain and symptoms. Since then it gets worse and better for periods of weeks to months throughout the year. This last year i’ve done extensive research on body posture, Sleep position, Pillows recently i’ve tried Yoga and Meditation. Meditation seems to help me relax the muscles and mind instantaneously if I wake up with a serious jaw tension. I have developed very painful knots in my neck muscles and lately i’ve been waking up every 3-4 hours so this makes alot more sense and sheds new light on what could be causing the tension. I’ve never considered that I may have sleep apnea. It’s gotten so bad it was causing my right ear to close the earway + earwax and I could not hear for 3 days. I feel the inner ear bones shift around when it’s at it’s maximum tension. Does anyone have any tips for how to relieve inner ear pressure + Jaw tension? Also what is the average that people experience such smyptoms from Bruxism/Sleep Apnea?

    • Recently, I’ve found some interesting information that connects jaw position, posture, and breathing. I’m not sure if this would be relevant to anyone else, but I found it helpful to know that my overbite might have caused me to develop a forward posture that minimizes my air way. My dentist told me that I show signs of bruxism, and I have a feeling my bad posture and/or stress is the cause.

    • You probably have trigger points in your shoulder and back. They will pull on the jaw and ear causing your pain, fullness, and stress.

  8. Great article Mark, I wanted to share a very interesting article on how i treated my dental grinding with a holistic appraoch

  9. My dentist has suggested Botox injections for my jaw to help relax the muscles that I clench subconsciously throughout the day. Has anyone done this and have success? I have a mouthguard because I grind and clench through the night, but it has only made it worse, and I have practically chewed through a $400 guard in less than 6 months!

    • I had Botox injected into my jaw and it completely relieved the pain caused by TMJ. It was a last resort. I’d tried everything and nothing worked. I also noticed the TMJ pain went away after I had a loose crown fixed.

      I don’t wake up with pain in my jaw or headaches but my dentist says I do grind my teeth. Has anyone tried Cerezen ear inserts. Their brochure says they stop TMJ pain but I want to stop the grinding/clenching.

  10. I don’t grind my back teeth, I grind my front teeth. And it’s during the day. Sometimes I don’t even know I’m doing it. It’s more like “chewing” my front teeth. What’s that say about me?

    • I do this as well. I didn’t notice until one time when the orthodontist asked me how I broke my 2 teeth on either side of my front teeth so evenly. I managed to stop the daytime grinding but at night I still grind the front right side. I am about 1/8 of inch from nerve on the front teeth… not good – be careful!

  11. My husband is a musician by profession playing saxophone. He’s been playing wind instruments for almost 25 years now. He grinds his teeth every night, at least for the past six years we’ve been married. I’d like to understand how his air passage way could still be ‘small’ and cause him grind his teeth? Could it be because of his posture when he sleeps? Or the curvature of his neck?

    • Dear Leng,
      From my understanding, air passages are more commonly obstructed by enlarged tonsils and adenoids and grinding is your body’s response to kick-start your breathing.

  12. Great reading .
    Thank you.
    I have severe clenching which persists during the day but is worse at night. I am snoring a lot now too. Time
    To check this out.
    Thank you !

  13. I have a CPAP and still grind my teeth. The CPAP did NOTHING to reduce grinding but the mouth guard is protecting my teeth which have been damaged. I’m sticking with the mouth guard.

    • A happy medium for you could be an ultra thin & impressively custom fit mouthguard called SOVA. It will not alter your bite very much because it’s thin ($40 online vs. I’ll fitting bulky one from stores or expensive, and often still bulky, Guard from dentist office). Very unique, durable material. sisuguard.com I really like these for use until source of bruxism is correctly diagnosed and properly treated (protects teeth until resolved!)

  14. So grateful to have found this article. I’ve been grinding for a good part of my life. My teeth are in horrible shape and now at the age of 45, it feels like I’m about to loose what few I have left in the back. I snore loudly, my husband has recorded it as a joke. My husband states that when I grind it’s incredibly loud and it disturbs his sleep many times a night. We were both feeling pretty hopeless. I really thought it was my overbite and my body trying to correct it. During my life I’ve had ticking (one side) and lock jaw but not any longer. Mouth guards are choking and don’t work for me. Thank you so much. I’m going to the doctor. If this is the case, what a MEGA HUGE breakthrough.

  15. That’s I interesting, but I find I’ve been having the urge to grind my teeth during daytime hours when I’m not sleeping, and therefor my airway isn’t blocked.

    • Yes. That’s something different and is referred to as daytime grinding. It has a different etiology and is not caused by airway size directly.

      • It seems I started grinding my front teeth following the end of taking Adderall for my ADHD. It appears I’ve had ADHD since childhood, but was not diagnosed until I was about 52yrs old. I was put on the medication to see if it would help my focus and it did, but I figured if I’ve made it this long without it, why take it? Someone suggested my daytime teeth grinding of my front teeth in particular, may be related to the Adderall.

  16. Thanks so much for the information, doctor.

    Can you talk a little more about day grinding? I am 40 years old, and have recently (past 2 or 3 months) noticed I am grinding my front teeth during the day.

    I never did this before, and as much as I want to stop, I find my teeth almost doing it to themselves.

    Thanks for any additional info you can provide!

    • that’s a good point. i’m always talking about nighttime bruxing. i’ll compare and contrast the two in the future. thanks for your comment!

    • I do the same day time grinding , it’s frustrating the way I want to chow on something just to grind , clench my teeth , want to smok , anything just to reward the teeth

      it make me feels angry and it’s like a cycle of grinding and angry

      What can help me please reply !?

  17. Hello Dr. Burhenne,
    I came across this post while researching bruxism after having just been told by my dentist that I’m a grinder, which is evidenced by fractures in my otherwise healthy teeth and two abfractions. Although I’m not happy about the grinding, I was interested to learn that there may be a reason I’m often waking up during the night and never feeling like I get a good night’s sleep. Not being a snorer or overweight, I just never considered sleep apnea but plan to see a sleep specialist and get tested.

    Have you heard of this laser treatment for sleep apnea, Nightlase? http://www.fotona.com/en/treatments/1627/nightlase/ I see some dentists in the U.S. starting to offer it including one near me who claims to have had great success with it.

    P.S. Looking forward to reading your book..

  18. I have been told by my mom all my life I grind my teeth while I sleep,well I’m 33 and I don’t sleep well as I have if which is a bladder disease n fibromyalgia n lupus so between my bladder n my muscle/joint pain I can only sleep 30min at most before I gotta get up n switch positions or go pee,so sleep is not something I get. I just went to dentist from such bad mouth/jaw pain n migrains for last 3 yrs and . I was told by dentist I’m severally grinding my teeth and I need one root canal,15cavities,4 crowns(several cracked teeth) done n periodontal disease treatment. I am wondering if my grinding did all that to my teeth cause I have always takin care of my teeth.I also have had sinus issues. I found out last yr that i have sinuse disease and had surgery on my right side of nose now my left side needs surgery. she wants give me a mouth guard after all my teeth are fixed but what do you think?

  19. I have been told by my mom all my life I grind my teeth while I sleep,well I’m 33 and I don’t sleep well as I have IC which is a uncurable bladder disease n fibromyalgia n lupus so between my bladder n my muscle/joint pain I can only sleep 30min at most before I gotta get up n switch positions or go pee,so sleep is not something I get. I just went to dentist from such bad mouth/jaw pain n migrains for last 3 yrs and . I was told by dentist I’m severally grinding my teeth and I need one root canal,15cavities,4 crowns(several cracked teeth) done n periodontal disease treatment. I am wondering if my grinding did all that to my teeth cause I have always takin care of my teeth.I also have had sinus issues. I found out last yr that i have sinuse disease and had surgery on my right side of nose now my left side needs surgery. she wants give me a mouth guard after all my teeth are fixed but what do you think?

    • My dentist talks about teeth grinding a lot. Like it’s the root of all my dental problems, except that I’ve never been a tooth grinder. I sleep like a baby and I don’t have jaw pain when I wake. The big secret about bruxism is emperor’s new clothes. Dressed up with a $400 custom made night guard set; warning: good bye sex life.

      For the very few percent of people who actually do have problems with this, the solution is not a night guard, you need to stop doing it! A night guard won’t stop you. Probably no one will ever tell you this though because it’s easier buying a disgusting mouth appliance than to make an effort to exert some control over your sleep state. Relax and stop grinding your teeth. Your brain sends the message to grind your brain can send the message to stop. Make a conscious positive thought to not grind just before you go bed and no more grinding.

  20. My dentist talks about teeth grinding a lot. Like it’s the root of all my dental problems, except that I’ve never been a tooth grinder. I sleep like a baby and I don’t have jaw pain when I wake. The big secret about bruxism is emperor’s new clothes. Dressed up with a $400 custom made night guard set; warning: good bye sex life.

    For the very few percent of people who actually do have problems with this, the solution is not a night guard, you need to stop doing it! A night guard won’t stop you. Probably no one will ever tell you this though because it’s easier buying a disgusting mouth appliance than to make an effort to exert some control over your sleep state. Relax and stop grinding your teeth. Your brain sends the message to grind your brain can send the message to stop. Make a conscious positive thought to not grind just before you go bed and no more grinding.

  21. Hello,
    I just started using a CPAP nasal pillow about 2 weeks ago and just this week began to grind my teeth or clench my jaw. I’m waking up with a super sore jaw and can hardly close my teeth together.

    Any idea why I’m just now grinding? I am having trouble sleeping due to the cpap being new to me as well as being stressed due to a new job.

    Thank you in advance.

  22. My 4 year old son has recently had a check up and we were told he has 10 cavities! One of his little teeth are even broken. They want to treat all his molars with crowns under general anesthetic.I came across this post and wondered if his severe tooth grinding in his sleep has anything to do with it. He even grinds during his nap at daycare and has been doing this for about two years. Could the fact that he snores heavily and is a mouth breather also be indicators that his airway is small and may have apnia issues?
    Thanks

    • Rebecca: Yes, it may be the case. Mouth breathing and nighttime grinding is seen along side the small airway and all of its comorbidities. Getting cavities a very multifactorial process. For example, because of his small airway he may be very tired and always looking for a snack that will pick him up. These snacks that kids seek out are the fermentable carbs that cause cavities, even with good oral hygiene.

      Sorry to hear about this. But you are the right track to finding the root cause for his cavities and mouth breathing. Good luck!

  23. Hi ,
    I am suffering from teeth grinding since my childhood but not regularly. But now from past one year it has become a habit for me ,my wife tells me almost every day .

    I am so much worried about this plz can any one help me and suggest me to overcome this.

    Thank you very much !!!!!

    Your suggestions are appreciated!!

  24. I grind my teeth during sleep, I wore night guard, but it causes uncomfortable sleeping.
    At least now I can search more on Apnea.

    Thanks for sharing this.

  25. I have been grinding my teeth in my sleep since I was a small child. I sleep every night with a mouth splint, to help delay the bone loose that is occurring. I am also tired and lazy a lot of the time.

    I recently had a home sleep study and the results say that I have absolutely no sleep apnea. I only managed to get 3.5 hours in, but the clinic says that was enough to show that I do not have it.

    I am really disappointment that I don’t have apnea, because I want to find a way to stop grinding.

    I have already tried meditation and hypnosis (very hard to do hypnosis because, I just fall asleep during it). So what other reason is there for grinding teeth?

    Could it just be emotional? I know I grind more when wearing the splint, but how else can I protect my teeth?

  26. I have had bruxism and tmj issues since I can remember, I gave up the day time grinding, but I still (sometimes??) clench and grind at night. I had braces, but that didn’t seem to help and my bite is still unstable. I can’t find a good place to rest my teeth. I also have joint hypermobility.
    I did a sleep study a few weeks ago, but only showed up as mild sleep apnoea. The sleep specialist is in another city, and just analysed my polysomnogram without an appointment, without making any recommendations.
    Still, because of tiredness, adrenal weirdness, tmj pain, neck pain, and headaches, I’m trialling APAP with a full face mask. After night 2, my teeth hurt so badly I thought I had a cavity. So I started using my 12-year old night guard (yeah, the one you said not to use) because I was so afraid of breaking my teeth.
    The theories in your article make a lot of sense.
    Why would CPAP (APAP) make the clenching/grinding so much worse? This is only night 5, so is there any risk in continuing the APAP?
    Any suggestions for the next step?

    • It’s very hard to say without seeing you. Are you using a humidifier on the CPAP? Dry air can make the mouth dry and make the teeth ache. What kind of mask are you using? Certain masks can make the teeth hurt or even cause jaw pain. Don’t underestimate “only mild” sleep apnea. All the symptoms you speak of are related. You may also have a bite issue which can contribute to your jaw and tooth pain. You need to see a dentist that can handle your complex case. Good luck to you.

      DrB

  27. Hi, I am a medical science student and I am interested in the “latest research article” that you mentioned which reveal that sleep apnea is a major cause for symptoms like teeth grinding. Would you mind to provide the reference of that article?

    • Any response to Albert? I’m curious if Teeth grinding does cause sleep apnea. My girlfriend grinds her teeth at night and I want to see what it could be related to.

  28. My 16yr old son recently had a septoplasty and Turbinate reduction which was supposed to reduce his snoring and teeth grinding for which he wears a mouthguard at night…but 6 weeks after surgery he is still grinding away…my elder son used to grind his teeth and I suspect he still does…not sure now what to do

  29. Very interesting article doctor.
    Do you suppose that grinding of the teeth is responsible for the irregular growth of wisdom teeth, requiring them to be extracted?
    I feel this is the case with me because I don l do grind my teeth a lot and my wisdom teeth try to come out but don’t, while there is a cut around the last molar, which has become swollen.
    Just a thought.

  30. very interesting… I have bruxism and the past two years it was especially bad. Now i have found out that I have several cavities, especially in the back where I usually grind my teeth the most. I also have a jaw that clicks. Could this be related to bruxism?

  31. Hey there
    Thanks for your article
    I have teeth grinding for almost a year and I’m using a night guard , it doesn’t solve the problem, it only changes the pattern of grinding!
    I think one of the reasons is that these days there are lots of signals around us wifi , mobile , … and also we keep reading and reading in social medias and we get lots of different information everyday which causes our brain be under pressure.

  32. I have used a cpap machine for sleep apnea for almost 2 years now. It made a huge difference in my quality of sleep and I am no longer tired, falling asleep during the day. However, it did nothing to change teeth clenching, grinding…I started recently to use a very small mouthguard to keep the teeth from grinding on each other. I do think it is stress related because a number of years ago, I went to visit a friend, and I had no responsibilities, just very peaceful and quiet surroundings, all alone during the day, and just relaxed. I realized after a few days, I was not grinding my teeth!

  33. Thank you for this enlightening article. I am interested in learning more about the connection between apnea and grinding, and I’m wondering if you were able to provide references for this powerful research, as others have asked.

  34. it’s been a long time I grind my teeth at night …and I m unconscious about it …my sis sleeps next to me and she always complains about it.she even recorded me grinding my teeth and thats really really horrible to listen…cant find the exact reason of it coz its been like years and years. do i really have stress for years….please help me to get rid of it….

  35. I would like to know more about the “oral appliance” which you mention in the article, which a dentist can make to open the airway.

    I have been clenching my teeth in my sleep for over 10 years now. At first, the pain in my jaw was so bad, I thought maybe I had a cavity or another wisdom tooth. I have environmental allergies and very mild asthma. I have been wearing a night guard for a good while, but lately the clenching is so bad that my gums now need surgery (or the exposed roots need to be filled).

    My dad snores at night, and my uncle had a CPAP machine, so I would not be surprised if I have sleep apnea even though I am in my 30s. I have been having other medical problems lately, where I have generally been healthy in the past. I wake up with my heart racing or my brain feels fried in the morning. I am worried for my safety, but the dentist never offered anything to address the clenching, only to protect the teeth. I need to find someone who can deal with the cause and not just the symptoms, but I don’t even know what to ask for. Thank you in advance for any assistance and for your article, which confirms so much of what I suspected.

    • Eric. Thanks for asking. I’d agree that you may have SDB issues. Time to find out. Read my book for a fast track to the right path to finding out. Available on Amazon. The 8 Hour Sleep Paradox.

  36. What if you clench your teeth vs grind? This has been a real issue for me the last years. This night I woke up with severe pain in my jaw and molar sensitivity. So I took a painkiller at 2 am. I have nightmares or tense dreams almost every night as I have a sleep disorder all my life where I sleepwalk and sleeptalk and dream vividly. I cant do anything to stop it 🙁 So my only cure seems a mouth guard and my dentist is going to make me one… So far I am using some moldable ones from amazon because this is too painful for me not to.
    I did a sleep study years ago for my sleepwalking and they only saw I skipped some sleep stages. I only stopped breathing a couple times shortly but they said it was normal.

  37. I use a night guard because I grind my teeth like crazy at night and wake up extremely tense. I wake up very refreshed though, so I’m curious if it’s still possible if I have sleep apnea?

  38. Hi Mark,

    I grind my teeth at night, this past few years im suffering from jaw cramps, i think this is the cause of teeth grinding. They said that teeth grinding is bad, I felt so embarrassed every time I had sleep over with friends. The jaw cramps is getting worse that it takes 3-4 days, there are times that I can’t handle the pain anymore. Pain reliever is quite helpful but it takes short time. I frequently visit a dentist to check if something wrong with the alignment of my teeth or any damage, but they haven’t seen wrong with the teeth. How can I treat teeth grinding? Any chances that we can cure this?

  39. Dr. Burhenne- This is a great article to help people understand they shouldn’t just go with the old standard of wearing a mouthguard and suffering consequences of not getting a full diagnosis and treatment. I have been suggesting SOVA as an interim mouthguard because it is thin (less altering to vertical opening and occlusion than any mouthguards I’ve seen) Could you take a look at SOVAguard.com and confirm if you feel it could be useful in protecting tooth structure and restorations until accurate diagnosis and proper treatment is achieved? Many thanks! I am a dental hygienist x25 years. So glad to see this evolving approach to bruxism treatment. In my experience, few patients are willing to pay for costly custom night guards, and I am not comfortable with use of bulky, ill fitting OTC night guards. This SOVA alternative seems like it could be a great temporary solution to protect teeth until patients get root cause resolved. Input please? Thank you!

    • Hi Amy!

      Thanks for being a reader.

      I just ordered my free samples of the SOVA and am excited to try out this product. I’ll get back to you when I do. Thanks for mentioning this product. It looks intriguing. I always learn so much from hygienists! Remember the microbead issue? That was a hygienist that sounded the alarm.

      drb

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