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Many children grind their teeth, but they eventually grow out of it. Or do they? Several adults grind their teeth at night without realizing it. In extreme cases, tooth grinding and clenching can cause damage to your teeth and jaw. A dentist can treat your teeth grinding and clenching (which is also called bruxism), but you may wonder how to tell if you have it and why.

Symptoms of Teeth Grinding and Clenching

It can be hard to tell if you grind your teeth when you’re sleeping because . . . well, you’re sleeping. However, there are several symptoms that show evidence of bruxism.

  • Signs in the Morning: If you wake up with a sore jaw, headache, earache, or indentations on your tongue, then you may grind or clench your teeth at night.
  • Teeth Wear: Keep an eye on your teeth. Check for signs of tooth wear or fractures. Teeth that hurt or are loose can also indicate bruxism.

Causes of Teeth Grinding and Clenching

Since most bruxism cases happen during sleep, teeth grinding and clenching is obviously not a conscious decision. What happens to cause it?

  • Stress During the Day: This is perhaps the most common cause of teeth grinding at night. Stress and anxiety can translate into bruxism, acting a coping mechanism when you sleep.
  • How You Sleep: Since tooth grinding often happens when you sleep, it makes sense that how you sleep can cause it. Bruxism has been linked to sleeping on your back, snoring, sleep deprivation, and even sleep apnea.
  • What You Take In: The consumption of alcohol, drugs, and even caffeine have all been linked to bruxism.
  • Shape of Teeth: Another possible cause of teeth grinding can be an uneven bite, crooked teeth, or missing ones.