Stress and grinding

It may sound strange but many people don’t realise they grind their teeth. The habit can be very damaging to teeth and can have follow on symptoms you may not expect. 

Exactly when, why and how long you clench and, or grind varies. The habit is usually involuntary and often associated with stress. It’s common for people (including children) to clench and grind during their sleep so we’ll often hear of partners and parents complaining about the noise before the patient is aware.   

Anyone who suffers day-long headaches or jaw ache from bruxism will tell you that finding a solution is a wonderful relief that allows you to enjoy your day without nagging pain or discomfort.

Because grinding and clenching generally happen during sleep, the symptoms are often worst when you first wake. So what are the symptoms?

Signs and symptoms of teeth grinding include:

  • grinding sounds while the person is asleep
  • headache, jaw joint or ear pain
  • aching teeth – particularly upon waking
  • aching or stiffness of the face and temples upon waking
  • aching or stiffness in the jaws while chewing – particularly during breakfast
  • clenching the jaw when angry, anxious or concentrating
  • sensitive teeth
  • cracked or chipped tooth enamel
  • tooth indentations on the tongue
  • raised tissue on the cheek caused by cheek biting
  • wobbly teeth.

  Factors that may trigger grinding include:

  • emotional stress, such as anger or anxiety
  • mental concentration
  • physical effort or stress, such as illness, nutritional deficiency or dehydration
  • incorrect tooth alignment
  • drug misuse (particularly amphetamines)
  • eruption of teeth (babies and children).


Complications that arise from teeth grinding may include:

  • cracked tooth enamel
  • excessive wear and tear on the teeth
  • broken teeth or restorations
  • strain on the joints and soft tissue of the jaw joint
  • enlargement of the jaw muscles (rare).


If you think you may be grinding your teeth it’s a good idea to bring it up with your dental professional as there are lots of techniques available to help manage the habit and help address the symptoms.

If you hear of see your child grind their teeth or clench their jaws quite firmly – don’t be alarmed it’s not unusual for this to happen from time to time. In most cases, children don’t cause any damage unless the grinding is very regular.  If you are concerned do raise the issue because there are solutions we can work through for children as well.

Therapy may vary from self massage or relaxation techniques, to the use of different removable appliances to protect your teeth from damage or muscle relaxants to help break the habit and provide relief.

If you’re wanting an assessment call bcdental on  9589 2675 and one of our friendly staff will assist you in booking an appointment.