Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Teeth grinding

2-minute read

It is fairly common for people to grind their teeth together unconsciously, usually during their sleep. This habit is known as bruxism.

Why do some people grind their teeth?

There are many possible reasons for tooth grinding. These include:

People who grind their teeth while asleep are more likely to have other sleep disorders, such as sleep apnoea.

Does teeth grinding cause any problems?

If you grind your teeth, you can get :

  • painful jaw muscles, especially in the morning
  • cracked, chipped or loose teeth
  • neck or ear pain
  • dull headaches
  • sensitivity to hot or cold foods or drinks.

It can also make it hard for those around you to sleep – it can sound like stones grinding together.

Some people, however, grind their teeth at night and find it causes them no problems.

Diagnosis of teeth grinding

Your dentist will check for signs of bruxism, such as tooth damage, during regular dental check-ups. If they suspect teeth grinding, they will do an examination and ask questions about your symptoms, sleep habits, general health and medications.

Sometimes people see their doctor for headaches or a sore neck, and find teeth grinding is the cause. Your doctor can diagnose it simply by looking in your mouth.

Treatment of teeth grinding

Not everybody who grinds their teeth needs treatment. Many children will simply grow out of it.

If you do need treatment, there are different ways to tackle it.

One is to tackle the psychological aspects through:

The other is to look at the physical aspects through:

  • a custom-made mouthguard (known as an occlusal splint) to protect your teeth
  • dental treatment to repair damaged teeth
  • short term medication, such as a muscle relaxant
  • biofeedback to improve control of your jaw muscle movements
  • medical treatment for any condition linked to tooth grinding

It is common to use more than one approach. Talk to your dentist or doctor about your options and their benefits and risks.

For more information

Go to the Australian Dental Association and search "teeth grinding". You can find information there that is appropriate for your age.

Last reviewed: May 2018

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Teeth grinding

Find out why out the causes of teeth grinding (bruxism), the effects of teeth grinding and what to do if your toddler grinds their teeth in their sleep.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Teeth grinding/bruxism

Bruxism is the habit of clenching, gnashing or grinding your teeth.

Read more on Sleep Health Foundation website

Teeth grinding - Better Health Channel

Teeth grinding (bruxism) is involuntary clenching or grinding of the teeth, usually during sleep.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Teeth Grinding (31-64yrs) - Your Dental Health | Australian Dental Association

Teeth grinding, or Bruxism as it's officially known, is one of those tricky conditions that you could be suffering from without even knowing it.

Read more on ADA – Australian Dental Association website

Teeth-grinding in children during sleep | Raising Children Network

Children often grind their teeth in sleep. Teeth-grinding doesnt mean theres anything wrong with your child and usually doesnt hurt your childs teeth.

Read more on Raising Children Network website

Teeth Grinding (65+) - Your Dental Health | Australian Dental Association

This is an involuntary clenching, grinding and gnashing of the teeth. Information for Older Adults 65+ years.

Read more on ADA – Australian Dental Association website

Sleep disorders in children

Some young children suffer from sleeping disorders. Learn more about common sleep problems including sleepwalking, insomnia, night terrors and sleep rocking.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Rett Syndrome

Rett syndrome is a severe genetic disorder of the nervous system caused, in most cases, by a mutation in the MECP2 gene. The disorder is usually only seen in girls and affects all body movement. It causes loss of speech and hand use. Girls with Rett syndrome need therapy to help them with movement and communication.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Temporomandibular joint disorders - myDr.com.au

Find out more about temporomandibular disorders, or TMJ disorders, which cause dull, aching pain in the jaw.

Read more on myDr website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo