Symptoms of teeth grinding 

Teeth grinding (bruxism) can cause different symptoms, including facial pain, headaches and worn-down teeth.

Some of the symptoms of bruxism, such as facial pain, will often disappear when you stop grinding your teeth. Others, such as tooth damage, can be permanent and may need dental treatment.

Possible symptoms of teeth grinding include:

  • headaches
  • facial muscle pain (facial myalgia)
  • earache
  • tightness and stiffness in the shoulders
  • pain and stiffness in the jaw joint and surrounding muscles (known as the temporomandibular joint)
  • sleep disruption (both to you and your partner) 

Symptoms that affect the mouth include:

  • worn teeth, which can result in short teeth, increased tooth sensitivity and possible loss of teeth
  • fractured teeth or fillings
  • difficulty opening your mouth

It's important to note tooth wear only occurs in severe cases of bruxism and not everyone who grinds their teeth will have it.

If your teeth become worn through grinding, you may need dental treatment to avoid developing further problems, such as infection or a dental abscess.

When to see a doctor or dentist

You should see your dentist if:

  • your teeth are worn, damaged or sensitive
  • you have pain in your jaw, face or ear
  • your partner complains that you make a grinding sound in your sleep

Tell your dentist if you think you're grinding your teeth. They'll check your teeth and jaw for signs of bruxism, help work out the possible causes, and suggest appropriate treatment.

See your GP if you grind your teeth and you have high stress levels or anxiety. They'll be able to recommend treatment to help manage your stress, which may alleviate your teeth grinding symptoms.

Read more about treating bruxism.

Page last reviewed: 05/09/2014

Next review due: 05/09/2016