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Have you ever woken up with a throbbing jaw, clenching your teeth, and drooling all over the pillow? Many people experience what’s known as sleep bruxism without even knowing it. While you’re asleep and not chewing on food, sipping drinks, or playing sports, your teeth can still suffer from wear and tear from grinding them together. If left unchecked, sleep bruxism can lead to various problems with dental health both in terms of aesthetics as well as function.

Sleep Bruxism

As you sleep, your body uses a different side of your brain. This leads to muscle contractions, particularly in your jaw. When the muscles in your jaw contract too much and too hard, it causes your teeth to grind against each other. You may mistakenly believe this grinding is just part of an active dream or illusion occurring during a subconscious state -but that's not always the case.

Bruxism is an oral health problem that is characterized by frequent jaw clenching and teeth grinding. It occurs while a person is asleep, and can cause soreness, mouth sores, headaches, and dental damage. The exact cause of bruxism is not yet understood. While lifestyle changes that reduce stress can sometimes help reduce instances of bruxism, there is no definitive cure. 

Nowadays, it is considered one of the most common sleep-related disorders, affecting between 10% and 30% of the population, especially men.

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What causes Bruxism?

Sleep bruxism can be caused by numerous things, including stress or anxiety, alcohol consumption, or exposure to caffeine or nicotine. While there is no definitive cure for sleep bruxism, several lifestyle changes may help reduce instances of it.

How can I spot Bruxism?

If you experience jaw pain, facial and teeth pain, frequent headaches, migraines, jaw tension or TMJ disorder, tingling or numbness in the face, sensitive teeth, receding gums, excessive wear and tear of tooth enamel, and distinctive wear patterns on the teeth during the day or when you wake up in the morning, it’s time to see a dentist.

The most common symptom of sleep bruxism is waking up with a sore or strained jaw. You may wake in the morning with a dull headache, facial pain, and/or sensitivity to touch. You may also experience grinding or clicking sounds from your jaw joint, as well as wear and tear on your teeth resulting from both clenching and grinding. In some cases, sleep bruxism can cause small fractures in the jaw bone and damage the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), resulting in temporary locking of your jaw muscles when you open your mouth wide or chew. 

Your dentist may also be able to detect tell-tale signs of sleep bruxism by looking at your teeth – such as telltale patterns on the enamel or receding gums that indicate teeth are no longer covered during sleep by adequate amounts of gum tissue and root surface.

At D&R Dentistry, our dentists can do a digital scan and impression of your mouth to design a custom-fit nightguard to help reduce your clenching and grinding and protect your smile from the damage that sleep bruxism can cause.

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If you suspect you might be clenching or grinding your teeth at night, then we recommend scheduling an examination with a dentist at D&R Dentistry. We can talk with you about the symptoms you have been experiencing and examine your mouth thoroughly. To learn more about sleep bruxism and nightguards, we welcome you to contact our office in Miami and schedule a consultation with one of our dentists today. You can also reach us by calling 305-400-8060 or emailing


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