Carlisle's Dental Health Blog

How To Tell If I Grind My Teeth At Night

Grinding your teeth (technical term bruxism) at night is a harmful condition that can be seriously detrimental to your oral health. Especially since you are doing it when you are asleep, it can take serious symptoms to start showing until you are able to recognize that a problem is even occurring. Unless you have someone to keep an eye on you when you sleep, how can you tell if you are grinding your teeth at night? 

What Are Signs To Know If I’m Grinding My Teeth?

The best process to figure out if you are clenching and grinding your teeth at night is to look for certain signs and symptoms. The most telling signs of teeth grinding include headaches, disrupted sleep, increased tooth sensitivity, TMJ discomfort, and consistent jaw, ear, or neck pain, especially right after waking up. 

  1. Disrupted Sleep – If you suddenly start experiencing disrupted sleep, sleep apnea, or another sleep disorder coupled with any of the symptoms that will be mentioned up next, that is a good sign that you could be grinding your teeth when you sleep. 
  1. Headaches – Constant instances of head pain (predominantly starting in the temples) present after sleep is a good sign of bruxism. Be sure to tell your doctor about this issue at your next appointment so they can help diagnose the issue, whether it is from grinding your teeth or not. 
  1. Increased Tooth Sensitivity – If you are grinding your teeth at night, your enamel will consistently be chipped away and eventually that will lead to your teeth becoming more sensitive than normal. You may discover this when foods you can normally eat irritate your teeth. This will be especially prevalent in colder and acidic foods. 
  1. TMJ (temporomandibular joint) discomfort – TMJ disorder and bruxism are related conditions in which grinding your teeth can lead to or worsen TMJ disorder. Signs of TMJ disorder are aching pains and worsened functioning of your jaw muscles and joints. It also could be identified by a clicking in your ears. If you are experiencing issues you believe to be TMJ related, consider consulting with our partner oral surgery center Alfano Oral Surgery for high quality care to resolve your condition. 
  1. Consistent Jaw, Ear, or Neck Pain – If you start consistently experiencing irregular pain in your jaw, ear(s), or neck, it could mean you are grinding your teeth when you sleep. This is due to the constant movement of your muscles in these areas as you sleep. Some toothaches can feel as though they are coming from your ear. If ear aches suddenly start occuring and are coupled with any of the other symptoms on this list, it is important to notify your dentist next time you see them. They can attempt to solve your issue if it is dental-related or identify if it is an issue related to another health complication. 

6. Asking For Help From Others In Your Household – If you do not live by yourself, the people you live with may be able to help identify if you are grinding your teeth or not. If you have a partner you sleep with, it is more than likely that they will notice you grinding because of the noises it makes. If you live with friends or family that stay up later than you do, ask them to check up on you while you sleep. If you can’t find anybody to help you discover if you are grinding your teeth, one option is to record yourself sleeping if you are comfortable with it.  

What Causes Me To Grind My Teeth? 

Teeth grinding can be the result of many different factors. Some of the leading causes include:

  • Age – As young children get over their natural teething, it is a common issue to develop a teeth grinding problem when sleeping. Children usually outgrow this issue, but if it is problematic your local pediatric dentist can help them resolve the night grinding. Usually this is done by giving them a splint and mouth guard to use when they sleep. In severe cases surgery may be necessary. 
  • Stress – In periods of high anxiety and stress in one’s life they can develop a teeth grinding habit. This form of bruxism is usually best solved by finding the root of the issues and trying to dissolve the underlying cause of those emotions. 
  • Aggression – Individuals with aggressive and competitive traits are more likely to develop issues of teeth grinding due to the stressors placed in the individual. 
  • Medications – Certain medications can cause a tooth grinding issue in individuals, namely for conditions such as depression, PTSD, and other psychiatric conditions can cause individuals to start grinding their teeth more. This is caused by the stimulation made to your brain when these types of drugs are taken. 
  • Sleeping Disorders. Sleeping disorders including conditions such as sleep apnea and night terrors can be a cause of teeth grinding or even elevate it if already occurring. The stress these conditions place on you can increase your anxiety and discomfort especially during sleep. Our group is partnered with a Central PA dentist offering dental sleep medicine for individuals who suffer from sleep apnea and related issues.

How Can I Prevent Myself From Teeth Grinding?

Prevention of teeth grinding in adults is usually at the base the result of two issues. These issues may be dental-related, which we can help resolve. A lot of remaining issues involving bruxism are directly correlated to anxiety, a simple but difficult way to solve problems is to rid them of the negative emotions driving that stress. Alleviating stressors through relaxation techniques and trying to participate in activities you enjoy even for a minimal time throughout the day can make a big difference. 


If you discover one or more of the symptoms mentioned in this article then we recommend contacting your dentist as soon as possible. Both your dentist and the hygienists in the office are educated and trained to help give a diagnosis of what your issue is and develop a plan tailored to help solve your needs. 

Dentist in Carlisle, PA