This article has been medically reviewed and verified by Dr. Lara Coseo (DDS, FAGD). She is a 2004 graduate of Baylor College of Dentistryin Dallas, TX. Having practiced general dentistry for 13 years, Dr. Lara currently serves as an Associate Professor at Texas A&M College of Dentistry.
This article has been updated and reviewed for accuracy on 07/07/23
Teeth grinding and clenching doesn’t just happen during the night.
What causes teeth grinding or clenching during the day?
Teeth grinding or clenching during the day, known as awake bruxism, can have various causes. Here are some common factors that may contribute to teeth grinding during waking hours:
- Stress and anxiety: Psychological factors such as stress, anxiety, or tension can trigger teeth grinding during the day. It may be a subconscious response to cope with emotional or psychological stressors.
- Bite and jaw misalignment: Misalignment of the teeth (malocclusion) or improper alignment of the jaw can lead to teeth grinding. When the teeth do not fit together properly or the jaw is not properly aligned, it can result in bruxism.
- Medications and substances: Certain medications, such as antidepressants or stimulants, can increase the risk of teeth grinding. Additionally, the excessive use of caffeine, alcohol, or recreational drugs may also contribute to bruxism.
- Habits and lifestyle factors: Certain habits or lifestyle choices can contribute to teeth grinding during the day. These may include chewing on pens, pencils, or other objects, biting nails, or clenching the jaw due to intense concentration.
- Physical factors: Certain medical conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, can lead to teeth grinding during the day. It can also be a response to pain or discomfort in the oral or facial region.
- Sleep-related issues: Sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, can cause teeth grinding both during sleep and while awake. In such cases, the teeth grinding during the day may be a result of an underlying sleep problem.
Daytime Bruxism | Signs & Symptoms
Signs You’re Grinding or Clenching Your Teeth During The Day
- stiffness and soreness in your teeth and jaw area(s)
- jaw tension and tightness. Feels like jaw is never relaxed.
- you catch yourself clenching or bearing down while focused on a task
- teeth sensitive to cold
- popping sounds when you open or close your jaw (may or may not accompany other symptoms)
- particularly stressed during the day
- cracked or worn down teeth
- Painful to chew gum or certain foods ex: steak
During the day, clenching the teeth is more common than grinding.
How can I tell if I grind or clench my teeth during the day?
Detecting teeth grinding or clenching during the day can be a bit challenging since it often happens subconsciously. However, there are several signs and symptoms that may indicate you are grinding or clenching your teeth while awake. Here are some common indicators to look out for:
- Jaw pain or soreness: Persistent or recurring jaw pain, especially in the morning or throughout the day, can be a sign of teeth grinding or clenching. The muscles in your jaw may feel tired or overworked.
- Headaches: Frequent tension headaches, particularly in the temples or at the back of the head, can be associated with teeth grinding during the day. The excessive strain on the jaw muscles can radiate pain to other areas.
- Facial muscle fatigue: If you notice facial muscle fatigue, especially around the cheeks or temples, it could be a result of constant clenching or grinding during the day. Your facial muscles may feel tense or tired.
- Worn-down teeth: Over time, teeth grinding can lead to noticeable wear on the biting surfaces of your teeth. Your dentist may identify signs of enamel erosion, flattening of the tooth edges, or tooth sensitivity during a dental examination.
- Indentations on the tongue: Teeth clenching can cause the edges of your teeth to press into your tongue during the day. If you notice indentations or imprints on the sides of your tongue, it could be an indication of clenching.
- Increased tooth sensitivity: Grinding your teeth during the day can result in heightened tooth sensitivity, particularly to hot or cold temperatures. The wearing down of enamel exposes the underlying dentin, leading to sensitivity.
- Tired or tight jaw muscles: If your jaw muscles frequently feel tired, tight, or achy, it may be due to excessive clenching or grinding during the day. This discomfort may be more noticeable when eating or speaking.
- Chipped or fractured teeth: Severe teeth grinding can sometimes cause teeth to chip, fracture, or become loose. If you notice any unexplained tooth damage, it could be a sign of daytime teeth grinding.
Common Treatment for Daytime Bruxism
How to stop teeth grinding during the day
You will benefit from wearing a thin night guard during the day to protect and save your teeth.
“But I don’t want everyone to know I’m wearing a guard during the day. I need to be able to talk on the phone and talk with coworkers!”
We hear you. Our No-Show Day Guard hugs the back molars only so you can smile and speak all day without your daytime guard showing.
Another great option for you:
Much like the popular invisalign retainers, our 1mm hard night guard is just as thin and unnoticeable. This design covers all of the teeth.
Interesting fact: Some studies suggest that diurnal bruxism is less prevalent in aged and experienced workers. Young workers in high stress in environments with less experience tend to clench and/or grind their teeth more regularly and with more intensity.
Fear not! We have you covered. If you would like to discuss whether the thin daytime guard or the no-show day guard will work best for you, we’re here to help.
Do you believe you may be suffering from daytime bruxism? This is also referred to as diurnal bruxism in the dental field.
Some dentists speculate that teeth grinding and clenching is getting worse because of day to day stresses though other factors like sleep apnea can cause teeth grinding as well.
High stress lives can cause daytime bruxism.
From paramedics to taxi drivers to customer service agents to stay at home parents, stress is oftentimes lurking behind the clenched jaw. Stress induced bruxism can come and go during your life. If suffering from sleep apnea, the bruxism can stay with you for much longer.
What to do?
Habit awareness. Simply being aware of what you’re doing is the first step to recognizing the habit and making a conscience decision to stop.
Habit reversal therapy. A behavioral treatment that provides a step by step guide to reversing habits. This can be an effective tool to empower a person to overcome the urge to clench the jaw during the day.
Relaxation techniques. This includes focusing on the breath, mind/body scan, meditation, repetitive mantras, focusing on visual imagery, hot baths, sipping tea, sitting outside, etc.
Biofeedback massed therapy. A therapy that involves visual and audio techniques that help you gain control over involuntary movements.
Moist heat therapy. Hot compresses with a damp cloth on the jaw in the morning as soon as you get up. 20 minutes on each side can penetrate the muscles and help to loosen them up. Also, evening hot compresses after a long day can offer relief.
Treatment includes often includes night guards or daytime bruxism splints. Hard splints and soft guards can help greatly to break up tooth on tooth contact and give the teeth a much needed break from bruxing.
Self massage on different points on the face. There are a few points on the jaw area that can be massaged daily to relax the muscle tissue and reduce nerve compression. Learn how to properly self massage the jaw.
Other recommendations include getting a good nights’ sleep, eating well, daily exercise, reducing smoking and alcohol.
The good news is, you’re awake when you’re performing the action unlike nocturnal bruxism. Self awareness, that is, being cognizant of clenching the teeth during the day is your first step to curing the issue. When you find yourself clenching, take a deep breath and relax the jaw. We tend to hold all of our stress in our jaw. Relax the teeth. Relax the jaw and breath.
Similar to when we lift weights and feel sore after, a feeling of tension and tightness in the face can build up due to the constant “working out” of the jaw at night or during the day. Lactic acid builds up in the muscles.
Your teeth need a break. Your jaw needs a break but there is no relief because the act is involuntary. You’re not trying to do it!
When the muscles aren’t firing as much, they can relax and pain decreases.
What are the effects of teeth grinding during the day on oral health?
Teeth grinding during the day, also known as awake bruxism, can have several effects on oral health. These effects may vary depending on the severity and frequency of grinding, as well as individual factors. Here are some potential consequences of teeth grinding during the day:
- Tooth damage: The excessive force and friction exerted on the teeth during grinding can lead to tooth wear, chipping, cracking, or fracturing. This can weaken the tooth structure and increase the risk of tooth decay or tooth loss.
- Jaw pain and TMJ disorders: Daytime teeth grinding can strain the muscles, ligaments, and joints of the jaw, leading to temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders. This can result in jaw pain, stiffness, difficulty opening or closing the mouth, and clicking or popping sounds when moving the jaw.
- Headaches and facial pain: The repetitive motion of grinding can cause muscle tension and fatigue in the facial and temple areas. This can contribute to chronic headaches, facial pain, and discomfort.
- Gum recession: Persistent grinding during the day can put excessive pressure on the gums, leading to gum recession. Receding gums expose the sensitive tooth roots, increasing the risk of tooth sensitivity, root decay, and gum disease.
- Increased tooth sensitivity: The enamel on the teeth can gradually wear down due to grinding, exposing the underlying dentin. This can result in heightened tooth sensitivity to hot, cold, or sweet stimuli.
- Sleep disturbances: Teeth grinding during the day can also be associated with sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea. These conditions can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to daytime fatigue and decreased quality of life.
- Complications with dental restorations: If you have dental restorations such as fillings, crowns, or veneers, the excessive forces from grinding can put stress on these restorations, potentially causing damage or dislodgment.
The prevalence of daytime bruxism is high in the work place. Studies show that young professionals with less experience on the job tend to suffer from this parafunctional activity more so than aged, experienced workers. Certain therapies such as behavioral therapies, habit reversal therapies and relaxation techniques have shown promising success in lessening diurnal bruxism. Additionally, moist warm compresses on the jaw, wearing a dental night guard during the day and self massage can help greatly.
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