Do you grind your teeth while you sleep? Do you ever catch yourself clenching your jaw in the middle of a hectic workday? Do you routinely wake up with an achy mouth? Bruxism, commonly referred to as clenching or grinding your teeth, is a fairly common condition that impacts adults and children, both day and night. Over time, it can take a toll on your mouth and even cause other medical issues.

If you are concerned about bruxism and how it affects your overall dental health, contact Cohen Dental Care today. From our offices in Great Neck and Briarwood, we can determine whether or not you are dealing with symptoms of bruxism and create a personalized treatment plan that will help give you relief.

What is bruxism?

Bruxism affects everyone in different ways. While some individuals don’t have any symptoms, others deal with pain in their ears, jaw, and cheek area. Because of the pressure that bruxism puts on your jaw, some report temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD), a condition that creates severe pain and discomfort. Constant grinding can also lead to intense headaches. And if you share a bed with a partner, grinding your teeth in your sleep can be annoying! 

From a dental perspective, it can seriously break down your teeth. Depending on how long you’ve been dealing with the condition, your teeth may be flattened, fractured, chipped, or loose. This can significantly impact the long-term stability of your teeth and require cosmetic intervention and repair. Additionally, bruxism can break down the enamel that coats your teeth, leaving the deep layers of your mouth unprotected and more exposed to daily wear and tear. Bruxism is also connected to tooth pain and sensitivity, which can impact your ability to enjoy the foods and drinks you enjoy, as well as just be uncomfortable.


There are two categories of bruxism: awake bruxism and sleep bruxism. As you might guess, awake bruxism occurs while you are alert and going about your day. It might be connected to environmental or psychological stress, like when you’re studying a challenging subject, having a tough conversation, focusing intently on a big project, or just dealing with general life anxieties. In some people, it might be connected to a coping strategy or simply a bad habit. In these situations, intervention is key, though it might take some time to adjust. When it is connected to anxiety or stress, taking medications or speaking with a professional therapist about healthy relaxation techniques, like meditation and mindfulness, may help. You can also take action by paying close attention to your daily choices. When you feel your jaw getting tight, take a few minutes to collect yourself, move your mouth, and reposition your body. 

Conversely, sleep bruxism occurs while you are sleeping. If you sleep alone, you might not know you grinding your teeth while you rest, but you may consistently wake up with a sore jaw or a headache. If you sleep with a partner, they might be the first person to suggest you’re dealing with bruxism. There’s no documented reason to explain the roots of bruxism, but people who have it are also more likely to experience snoring or sleep apnea, and bouts of bruxism might be tied to various night-time triggers, like nightmares or temperature changes. One common and effective intervention for bruxism is a night guard, which protects your teeth from being further damaged and can prevent your partner from a night of hearing loud chewing. The night guards we offer Great Neck and Briarwood patients are designed specifically to protect teeth from bruxism.

Why an Experienced Dentist Can Help

If you are concerned about bruxism impacting your oral health, we want to help you. During a routine appointment, we can look for damage associated with tooth grinding, including an X-ray scan to evaluate your underlying bones. An appointment is also a great chance to discuss your medical history, including if you dealt with bruxism as a child or if it is a new development in your life. Interestingly, it can be hereditary, and understanding your family history can help both you and loved ones better control the situation. We can also discuss your personality traits and environmental factors that can contribute to bruxism. Most importantly, we can chat about repair and treatment choices, like restoration and mouth guards, to address the situation.  

To get started, simply fill out the contact form or give us a call at one of our two convenient clinics. We know life with bruxism is a literal pain, and we’d love to help you find a solution.