10 Ways Your Orthodontist Can Tell That You Grind Your Teeth

10 Ways Your Orthodontist Can Tell That You Grind Your Teeth

Bruxism, also known as teeth grinding, is a condition involving the clenching, gnashing, and grinding of your teeth. It is one of the worst teeth-destroying habits to have. Individuals with bruxism grind, clench, or gnash their teeth whether they are awake or asleep.

In fact, individuals who do that when they are asleep are more likely to have other associated sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea and snoring. While the occasional bruxism does not require any preventive solutions or treatment, in severe cases where it occurs frequently, the individual may develop issues such as damaged teeth, headaches, and jaw disorders.

Here are 10 signs that your dentist or orthodontist observes to determine if you have bruxism.

1. Achy jaws when you wake up in the morning

If you experience a painful joint or muscular pain in your cheeks when you open your mouth the next morning, chances are you were clenching or grinding your teeth while you were asleep the night before. Other symptoms include tender teeth with no decay or infection, and pain when you chew your food.

2. The presence of large buccal exostoses

Buccal exostoses are bony growths that develop on the cheek side of your alveolar ridges (the bone that surrounds your teeth). They can vary in number or sizes but do not cause much pain and are generally harmless. They do not need treatment unless they interfere with eating and toothbrushing. Individuals who grind or clench their teeth often are at a higher risk of developing buccal exostoses.

3. Ridges along the edge of your tongue

Also known as scalloped tongue, the condition gets its name from rippled or wavy edges that surface along the sides of the individual’s tongue. While a scalloped tongue is not a cause for concern, its potential cause should be tended to as it can lead to further complications that could detrimentally affect your dental health. One of these is bruxism, which occurs when the tongue presses against the teeth for prolonged periods.

4. Linea Alba

The next time you brush your teeth, take a look at your inner cheeks. Do you see a thin white line that runs across your inner cheeks? You might have developed a condition called linea alba. It is generally harmless and does not require any treatment. However, it may still be worth having it checked as there are adverse conditions that may have caused its development, such as bruxism.

5. Abfractions

Abfraction refers to the loss of tooth structure where the gum and tooth meet. The damage results in the formation of a V-shaped or wedge-shaped gap that is unrelated to infection, bacteria, or cavities. It can be caused by constant grinding or clenching.

The force generated by grinding can go up to as high as 80kg, causing the teeth to flex along the gum line, resulting in a part of the teeth to break up.

6. Cracked tooth

A crack in the tooth is often symptomatic, affecting the inner layers of the affected tooth. Such symptoms may include dental pain that occurs when biting on tough or hard food and typically worsens over time. A cracked tooth may require root canal treatment and crowning, especially if the pain lingers intensely. If left untreated, it can result in tooth fracture, which requires an extraction.

7. Front teeth appearing flatter and shorter

Our teeth are constantly being used, whether smiling, speaking, chewing, or biting on our favourite meal. Hence, there is bound to be pressure and friction on our teeth. The enamel is the protective layer that withstands wear and tear caused by these daily activities.

However, when you grind your teeth constantly, you are speeding up the process of wear and tear in your enamel, causing your front teeth to appear flatter and shorter than they are supposed to.

8. Craze lines

A craze line is different from a cracked tooth in that it is asymptomatic and occurs at the surface of the enamel. They typically do not require any treatment, but they do indicate that occlusal force is applied to the teeth, stressing them. Such force could come from parafunctional habits, such as biting on pen caps, bones, or ice chips, as well as clenching and grinding of the teeth.

9. Exposed dentine

When the two rows of teeth grind together, wear and tear occurs. This process is known as attrition. Untended attrition can lead to exposed dentine, which is full of tubules that are directly connected to the tooth nerves. Exposed dentine means that the individual will experience an increase in sensitivity to cold and acidic food and drinks. Additionally, exposed dentine is more likely at risk of acid erosions, which can cause craters to develop on the teeth’s occlusal surface.

10. Wear facets

Teeth grinding can lead to the sharp points of the teeth, also known as cusps, to appear flat. When the edges between the top and bottom row of teeth match one another, it often gives your dentist or orthodontist clues regarding the severity of your bruxism.


These signs can easily be spotted and managed by seeing your dentist or orthodontist. The only way to prevent further damage is by wearing a custom mouthguard before you sleep. It will help to act as a buffer, reducing the grinding force of your teeth, and protecting it against further attrition.

Here at BigSmile Dental Clinic, we offer a wide range of orthodontic treatments, from invisible braces to managing bruxism. We believe a healthy and beautiful smile will affect our overall health and confidence significantly. Contact us to get your dental health checked and fixed.