Teeth Grinding In Your Sleep

Sleep bruxism refers to the involuntary grinding or clenching of teeth during sleep. Unlike its daytime counterpart, bruxism, many individuals are unaware of their teeth grinding in their sleep until noticeable symptoms emerge or a sleep partner brings it to their attention. Cowan & Whitaker Orthodontics wants to change that!

What Causes Sleep Bruxism?

While the exact causes of teeth grinding during sleep are not fully understood, experts believe these factors are often responsible.

Stress Or Anxiety

These negative emotions can make you grind your teeth while sleeping to release or calm mental tension.

Alcohol, Smoking, Caffeine, And Poor Sleep

Consuming alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine can raise your anxiety levels, tense your muscles, and prevent the development of a healthy sleep pattern, all of which could lead to nighttime bruxism. 


Certain drugs can cause teeth clenching or grinding. However, it is not clear whether these drugs actually cause bruxism or simply worsen existing symptoms.


Misaligned teeth or an abnormal bite can create an uneven pressure distribution during jaw movements, sometimes resulting in grinding as teeth rub against each other and the jaw seeks a comfortable resting position. 

Sleep Disorders And Physical Conditions

Those with sleep-related disorders, like sleep apnea, are often more prone to grinding their teeth at night. Other conditions include neurological disorders like Parkinson’s or epilepsy, gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), night terrors, ADHD, genetics, parasites, and more.

Many are unaware of their teeth grinding in their sleep until noticeable symptoms emerge or a partner brings it to their attention.

Is Night Bruxism That Bad?

Since most people don’t realize they have sleep bruxism, you might wonder if its presence is really that worrisome. Unfortunately, it can have quite a few undesired effects on your oral health beyond dull teeth and cosmetic issues. Examples include:

  • Severe Dental Damage: Chronic grinding can result in significant wear and tear on the teeth. Over time, this can erode the enamel (which leaves teeth more susceptible to cavities and decay), create cracks in the teeth, and recede the gum line, eventually exposing the tooth’s root. It can also lead to losing supporting bones or teeth in severe cases. This dental damage can be costly, time-consuming, and uncomfortable to fix.
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMD): The temporomandibular joint that connects the jaw to the skull can suffer from the constant strain of grinding. This pressure can lead to TMD, an incurable jaw joint condition characterized by pain, difficulty chewing, and joint locking. 
  • Sleep Disruption: Bruxism can lead to brief awakenings that disrupt the sleep cycle. You may not recall these interruptions in the morning. Still, you could experience fatigue throughout the day, leading to mood swings and difficulty thinking.
  • Aesthetic Concerns: Dental complications can have undesired cosmetic effects on your smile.
Many are unaware of their teeth grinding in their sleep until noticeable symptoms emerge or a partner brings it to their attention.

Visit Cowan & Whitaker For Your Orthodontic Treatment Needs!

Whether with custom mouthguards, braces, palate expanders, or collaborating with an oral surgeon, Dr. Cowan and Dr. Whitaker can help to relieve sleep bruxism. Determine if you qualify for orthodontic work by scheduling a free consultation with our excellent team at Cowan & Whitaker Orthodontics in Tuscaloosa.