Teeth grinding and teeth clenching are two different ways people exhibit bruxism. Most people grind or clench their teeth occasionally; however, habitual teeth grinding and teeth clenching, usually at night, can be damaging to oral health.
Teeth clenching is the tightening of the jaw. This exerts a large force between the upper and lower teeth and also strains the jaw muscles. The excessive pressure can cause headaches, ear aches, and it can also lead to temporomandibular joint problems (commonly known as TMJ)
Teeth grinding is slightly different from teeth clenching. Grinding is essentially the forceful rubbing together of the upper and lower teeth repeatedly. This grinding can flatten out the natural grooves of the tooth, weaken the tooth as a whole, and potentially cause tooth loss. Like teeth clenching, teeth grinding may also cause headaches and stiffness and pain in the jaw.
The most common and effective remedy for clenching and grinding during sleep is a custom mouth guard. With clenching, the mouth guard reduces the amount of pressure that is exerted on the upper and lower jaw. With grinding, the mouth guard helps by providing a protective barrier between the upper teeth and lower teeth, thus reducing the chance of tooth damage. If you have either of these issues, a custom mouth guard is an effective solution.