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How Can I Tell If I am Grinding My Teeth?

It can be difficult to know if you are grinding your teeth in your sleep. If no one has ever told you that you grind your jaw while your sleeping, you may be unaware of the potentially harmful habit.

Many patients go for years suffering from painful symptoms, chronic headaches and poor oral health with little relief. Patients may not realize that their symptoms are caused by the condition known as bruxism.

What is bruxism?

Bruxism is the habitual motion of grinding the upper and lower jaw together. Most patients participate in bruxism unconsciously during sleep. Some patients may clench or grind their jaw in times of high stress or throughout the day.

While the exact reason for bruxism is unclear, it is commonly believed to be associated with stress. Patients with high-stress levels are more likely to grind their teeth or clench their jaw. Over time, the habit can damage the teeth and function of the jaw resulting in painful symptoms.

How do I know if I am grinding my teeth?

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  • Do you wake with headaches first thing in the morning?
  • Are your teeth worn down?
  • Do you have unexplained chips or cracks in your teeth?
  • Does your jaw or facial muscles hurt?

You may not know you are grinding your teeth until you visit your dentist. Typically, the dentist is able to spot signs of grinding based on the patterns of wear on the teeth. Patients who grind their teeth often have extremely worn down teeth, broken, or chipped teeth.

Patients who grind their teeth also often wake with headaches first thing in the morning. Many patients do not correlate their headaches to their nightly habit of bruxism, and ignore the headaches or try to treat them with over the counter pain medications. Patients who have headaches caused by teeth grinding rarely find relief from their headaches until they stop grinding.

How can I prevent my jaw from grinding in my sleep?

Bruxism can affect patients of any age. Children and adult patients may grind their teeth or clench their jaw and should seek treatment as soon as possible. Early intervention can help to protect patients from secondary complications such as tooth loss, gum recession, and TMJ.

Dr. Hassan offers patients with bruxism custom splint therapy options. Like a custom sports mouthguard, splint therapy is an oral appliance that fits comfortably in the mouth to protect the teeth and jaw.  The specially designed device prevents the upper and lower jaw from grinding together allowing your jaw muscles and joint to relax and heal.

Patients report feeling a nearly overnight reduction in chronic facial pain. Over time, patients experience improvement in the health and function of their bite, jaw and overall oral health.


If you have been experiencing chronic headaches or jaw pain, contact Manassas Smiles at (703) 335-1020 . Dr. Hassan can help determine the cause of your pain and provide a personalized treatment plan to restore your smile. We accept new patients of all ages from Manassas, Merryfield, Centreville, Clifton, Gainsville, Dale City, Warrenton and surrounding communities.


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