Bruxism: More Than Just a Bad Habit

bruxism causing headacheHas your sleep partner ever woken you up to say that you were grinding your teeth? This is how many people find out about their destructive habit, and it often goes undiagnosed for some time. Although many people believe that grinding your teeth is nothing to worry about, bruxism can actually be a serious oral health concern not to be taken lightly. Nighttime bruxing is especially concerning, because you are not consciously aware that it is happening and can cause severe damage to your teeth.

Symptoms and Side Effects

Aside from being told that you grind your teeth, there are a few significant symptoms that might cause you to question your unconscious nocturnal habits. These can include:

  • Headaches upon waking
  • Soreness in your face and TMJs (temporomandibular joints)
  • Painful or sensitive teeth
  • Chipped, worn, or damaged teeth

When left untreated, bruxism can cause severe damage like cracked teeth and uneven wear of enamel. The constant pressure and back and forth motion of grinding can break down ligaments that hold your teeth in place, causing them to become loose or even fall out. You may also experience TMD, or a dysfunction of your temporomandibular joints, that can lead to other painful symptoms.


Upon being evaluated, your dentist will decide if you are suffering from bruxism or a combination of ailments. Treatment for teeth grinding may involve the use of a non-invasive oral appliance, which can help alleviate some of your painful symptoms. Also known as a splint, or night guard, this appliance works by absorbing the force from biting down that would usually be transferred to your teeth when bruxing. Becoming aware of the problem often helps in correcting it, because then you can adjust your behavior accordingly. Learning relaxation techniques and consciously focusing on a better resting position for your mouth can help dramatically. In some cases, correction of malocclusion is necessary to fully alleviate your symptoms.


Michael J. Young, DDS, and his skilled team of dental care professionals happily serve patients and their families, living in Breaux Bridge, Broussard, Scott, Youngsville, and surrounding communities. To learn more, contact us today at our Lafayette dentist’s office at 337-237-6453.