My teeth hurt to bite on – am I grinding/clenching?

4th April 2024

Following on from cracked teeth and abscesses in our previous blogs, we’ll take a look at clenching or grinding as a cause of pain from teeth.

Dentists will often use the words “Bruxing/bruxism” or “parafunction” when referring to clenching or grinding. It’s a broad series of terms that we use to describe any contact between the teeth that occurs outside of normal eating/chewing contacts.

It seems like most people clench/grind their teeth whether they realise it or not. Take a look at your front teeth…. Are there any obvious wear patterns on the tips of the teeth? Can you move the teeth into a (usually quite odd) position where the worn edges fit perfectly together? Do your back teeth look flat? Do the muscles of your jaw feel a bit tender to press on?

If you recognise any of these signs then you’re probably a clencher.

If the teeth come under a lot of sustained pressure (this could be during the day or when you’re asleep at night) then this can sometimes lead to pain from the teeth. It increases the risk of cracked teeth (see our previous blog on this) but can also bring about pain from the ligaments that surround the roots of teeth and hold the teeth in the jawbone.

Tooth pain from clenching can either be localised to a specific tooth or spread across a few teeth and is usually a pain to most types of pressure or when biting.

Stress or anxiety can lead to teeth clenching or grinding. Read more in our blog on this topic.

As with all dental pain, you’ll need to speak to your dentist to have things checked out. Clenching and grinding can be quite destructive over time so you’ll want to know if there’s any action needed to protect you from further problems.


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