Potential Problems With Teeth Grinding

Apr 04, 2024
Potential Problems With Teeth Grinding
Perhaps your bed partner has clued you in, or maybe you figured it out on your own — you’re grinding your teeth. Called bruxism, this not-so-great habit can lead to serious complications.

Your bedmate tells you you’ve been grinding your teeth at night, and the soreness in your jaw certainly confirms this observation. Or, maybe you catch yourself clenching your teeth a lot more these days due to heightened stress. 

We assure you, you’re not alone. In a recent poll by the American Dental Association, researchers found that 71% of participating dental experts reported an increase in visits due to teeth grinding and clenching.

Here at Silverlake Smiles, Dr. Juliet Ebrahimian and the team have also seen this same trend in stress-related oral conditions like bruxism.

To give you an idea about why it’s important to seek our help if you’re grinding or clenching your teeth, we outline a few complications that can be traced back to bruxism.

The different types of bruxism

We want to start this discussion with a quick word about how bruxism can manifest itself, which is usually in one of two ways:

  1. Sleep bruxism — you grind your teeth at night
  2. Awake bruxism — you clench your teeth while you’re awake

Some people have one or the other while others have both types of bruxism. 

The potential effects of untreated bruxism

Whether you’re grinding your teeth a tonight, clenching your jaw during the day, or a little bit of both, you run the risk of some potentially serious complications, such as:

Worn-down teeth

Let’s start with an obvious side effect of teeth grinding — you’re wearing down your teeth. If you grind your teeth at night, you may be putting as much as 250 pounds of direct force on them. Your jaws are strong, and you may be going to the max of their capabilities since you’re not awake to regulate the effort.

Whether the grinding is full force or not, you can slowly wear away your teeth over time.

Tooth pain

As you might imagine, untreated teeth grinding can lead to cracks or teeth that get worn down to the point where nerves are exposed, which can be very painful.

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction

When you grind or clench your teeth, you place a lot of pressure on the tiny hinge joints on either side of your jaw — your TMJs. As a result, you can experience TMJ pain that affects the sides of your face.


Many people who grind or clench their teeth report headaches. 

Treating your bruxism

If you suspect that you might have bruxism, we urge you to come see us. If we confirm your suspicions after an examination, we can recommend the best way to preserve your teeth and relieve the tension.

In many cases, we’ve found that Botox® injections work very well. With this approach, we quiet the muscles that control your jaw — mostly your masseter muscles — with a botulinum toxin. Of course, you’ll still be able to chew as Botox targets the involuntary clenching and grinding.

In addition to Botox, we can also see whether you’re a good candidate for a nightguard.

For expert diagnosis and treatment of bruxism, please contact us at our Los Angeles office, which serves the Silver Lake neighborhood and areas of Los Feliz, Atwater Village, Frogtown, and Echo Park.