Bruxism, commonly known as teeth grinding, can occur at any stage of life. Many people are not even aware they have the condition until someone – usually a partner – tells them about the terrible noise they make during their sleep. Most symptoms are minor unless they are left untreated. The condition can cause headaches, unexplained jaw pain and tooth sensitivity as the hard enamel is worn down.


You may overlook the common symptoms of bruxism as they tend to occur when you first wake up and disappear quickly. If you are unknowingly clenching and grinding during the day, you may not experience symptoms until several hours later.

What you should look out for:

  • Dull headaches, sore jaw or ear pain
  • Sore jaw when eating, especially at breakfast time
  • Aching teeth, especially of a morning
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Intense jaw clenching throughout the day

Even if you are unsure whether bruxism is the cause, you should always mention your suspicions to your dentist. He or she can diagnose the condition and discuss the treatment options.


The likely causes of teeth grinding and severe clenching are often both physical and psychological. Your dentist will address any physical problems such as high fillings, missing teeth or crowded teeth. Once obvious physical issues have been resolved, your dentist may recommend an occlusal splint be made and fitted. You might also benefit from muscle relaxant treatments.

If the cause is emotional or due to illness, it is very important to deal with these issues before seeing your dentist. For assistance and guidance try calling Lifeline (131 114) and Beyond Blue (1300 224 636).

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