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Grinding at night: how to live with it

Grinding at night: how to live with it

Do you have jaw or head pain when you wake up? You may be suffering from bruxism, a disorder that causes involuntary teeth grinding and occurs most often during sleep.

It is a disorder that both adults and children can be affected by unknowingly. The severity and extent of bruxism can vary over a lifetime. Often the first indicator of this habit is the noise produced. If a person grinds their teeth in their sleep, it is not uncommon for their partner, spouse or parents to hear it. In severe cases, one person may experience facial pain, while another may not experience any symptoms at first.

  • According to, it is estimated that 8% of adults and nearly 14% of children grind their teeth a few times a week.
  • The prevalence of bruxism decreases with age to 12% in adolescence and to 3% in people aged 60 years and older.

There are two kinds of bruxism:

  • Centric bruxism: it is characterized by vertical movements, provoked by silent or not tightening of the jaw. This repeated vertical movement results in stiffening of the elevator muscles; only the joints work and the dentition is then subjected to a high pressure.
  • Eccentric bruxism: it is characterized by a collateral movement of the jaws. The individual with eccentric bruxism moves the teeth back and forth. It consists of grinding your teeth at night or during the day. This type of bruxism is usually noisier than centric bruxism.


The precise causes of bruxism have not yet been established. However, several factors have been identified such as stress, anxiety, sleep posture, teeth alignment problems, a period of awakening during the lighter sleep phase, a greater expression of the disorder, diet, the habits we have in order to fall asleep, etc.

It is important to be sensitive to triggers. Comprehensive management involving other health professionals, such as physiotherapists or psychologists, may also be required to identify the causes of bruxism and reduce its symptoms. If needed, we are available 24/7 to handle urgent cases. Contact us for more information!



Specific signs can be observed during a routine dental examination: erosion or abrasion of the teeth, hypersensitivity of the gums, inflammation of the gums, loosening of the teeth.

Migraines are the most common symptom seen in people with bruxism. These individuals are three times more likely to suffer from headaches than people without bruxism.

Teeth can be under extreme pressure due to bruxism. Tooth grinding or jaw clenching over a long period of time can cause a tooth to crack or break, a crown or a filling to break, the increased risk of gum disease and greater pressure on the joints and muscles of the jaw.

It is important to know how to recognize the first signs and symptoms of bruxism to avoid the consequences on oral health and health in general. If you wake up with pain in your facial muscles or headaches, you may be experiencing the most typical symptoms of bruxism. Bruxism causes tooth pain; teeth can also loosen and eventually fall out. It also destroys the bone of the tooth and causes joint problems.



If you are suffering from bruxism:

  • Avoid smoking at night
  • Avoid excess alcohol
  • Avoid sleeping on your back
  • Keep your bedroom quiet

Clinique Dentaire Champlain can suggest techniques to help you relax or loosen your jaw during the day. Find ways to relax before bed to get a good night’s sleep. Engage in stress-reducing activities such as physical activity, yoga, meditation, deep breathing exercises, massage, listening to music or taking a bath. Limit caffeine and alcohol consumption and eat a balanced diet. Contact us for more advice!

Management of bruxism includes relaxation, physical therapy and wearing a bite plate to prevent dental damage. Custom-made from impressions of the teeth, an occlusal plate is an acrylic tray that covers the chewing surface of the teeth. It can be worn day or night and prevents the upper teeth from coming into contact with the lower teeth.

Reducing stress in your daily routine can contribute to better oral health!

Complete the confidential medical-dental form before your first appointment.

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