Bruxism or teeth grinding

Bruxism or teeth grinding is the unconscious excessive grinding, clenching or gnashing of the teeth. It is a common behaviour that can lead to dental problems. Some people grind their teeth during sleep (sleep bruxism), while others do it when they are awake (awake bruxism).
Generally, people don't realise that they are clenching their teeth during sleep. People sleeping beside them are mostly the first ones to find out about this habit as they can hear their teeth grinding sound at night.
Bruxism in sleep (sleep bruxism) is a sleep disorder. People with this disorder are more vulnerable to have other sleeping problems, like snoring and pauses in breathing (sleep apnea).
Mild bruxism does not need any treatment. But in some people clenching can be persistent and severe to cause jaw disorders, damaged teeth, headaches and other health problems.

Types of Bruxism

Teeth grinding symptoms

Bruxism or teeth grinding symptoms can vary from person to person. Some common symptoms include:

  • Grinding or clenching teeth, which can make a loud noise to wake up someone sleeping beside.
  • Irregular shaped teeth that are fractured, flattened, chipped or loose.
  • Tense facial and jaw muscles
  • Tongue indentations
  • Facial pain
  • Damage to the inside of the cheek
  • Increased tooth pain or sensitivity
  • Sleep disorders
  • Headaches
  • Dislocation of the jaw
  • Locking of the jaw

When to see a doctor?

Consult your dentist or doctor if any of the above symptoms are bothering you in your everyday life.
If you notice that your child is clenching teeth or showing symptoms of bruxism, book a dental appointment with a dentist or pedodontist.

Consult our dentist and pedodontist for more information and right treatment for bruxism.

Awake bruxism

Occuring during daytime, it can be caused due to emotional factors like anxiety, tension, stress, anger or frustration. It can also be a coping strategy or a routine practice during deep concentration.

Sleep bruxism

It occurs during sleep and is considered a sleep-related chewing activity associated with sleep disturbances. People with sleep bruxism are unaware of this habit and they come to know about it only when other people tell them.

Risk factors

The bruxism risk factors include:


Increased stress, anxiety, anger or frustration can result in teeth grinding.


Teeth clenching habit is usually observed in young children, and it disappears by adulthood.


A person with a competitive, aggressive or hyperactive personality can be at an increased risk of bruxism.


Some psychiatric drugs may have a rare side effect that causes people to clench their teeth. The risk of bruxism may also rise by using recreational drugs, smoking tobacco and drinking caffeinated beverages or alcohol.

Family history

Sleep bruxism is observed in families. People are more likely to suffer from teeth grinding if their parents or siblings also had the same habit of bruxism.

Other health disorders

Bruxism can be associated with certain mental health problems such as parkinson's disease, epilepsy, dementia, night terrors, gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD) and sleep disorders including sleep apnea, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).


The dentist will conduct a regular dental examination to check for signs of teeth grinding and if required will perform a dental X-ray examination.
If there are any signs of bruxism, the dental doctor will monitor changes in a patient's teeth and mouth over the next several visits to check if the grinding process is progressive. Accordingly, the dentist will advise a treatment plan.

Determining the cause

If the dentist confirms that the patient has bruxism, the doctor will inquire about the general dental health, medications, daily lifestyle habits and sleeping schedules.
If bruxism is related to any risk factors like sleep disorders, mental health issues, any illness or specific medications, the dentist will refer the patient to the concerned doctor to treat the specific risk factor.


Bruxism can be treated successfully. No medication exists to prevent teeth grinding. For children, bruxism treatment depends on various factors such as the intensity of tooth wear, age of the child, and the symptoms experienced.

Treatment methods include:

  • The dentist may fit a night guard (‘bite splint’) for teeth and may prescribe a muscle relaxant to take before bedtime to help relax the jaw muscles and stop night-time grinding.
  • For some people suffering from severe grinding and who don't respond to other treatments methods, botox injections may give relief.
  • The healthcare provider may prescribe antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications to reduce stress factors or other emotional issues causing bruxism.
  • Treatment for risk factors such as epilepsy, parkinson’s disease, dementia, gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) and sleep disorders.

Management of bruxism can include:

  • Stress management therapy
  • Cognitive behaviour therapy
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Good sleep hygiene
  • Regular exercise
  • Repair tooth damage

Bruxism or Teeth Grinding Care at Medicover

The dental team at Medicover Hospitals offers personalised dental treatments after thorough evaluation. Our dentists adopt a comprehensive approach for treating dental issues and its related complications with utmost care and precision. For dental concerns, we design a specific treatment pathway that is best suited as per the patient’s individual dental condition. Ensuring high-quality treatment outcomes, we provide world-class medical care to our patients at an affordable pricing across all departments.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is bruxism?

Bruxism is a condition characterized by the involuntary grinding, clenching, or gnashing of teeth, often occurring during sleep. In some cases, it can also happen while awake.

2. What are the causes of bruxism?

Bruxism can be caused by various factors, including stress, anxiety, misaligned teeth, an abnormal bite, certain medications, sleep disorders, and lifestyle habits.

3. How do I know if I have bruxism?

Common signs of bruxism include frequent headaches, jaw pain, worn-down teeth, tooth sensitivity, and disrupted sleep. If you experience any of these symptoms, it's advisable to consult a dentist.

4. Why is bruxism harmful?

Serious dental issues include tooth wear, chipped teeth, and even cracked teeth can result from bruxism. Due to the severe tension on the jaw muscles, it can also result in TMJ issues, headaches, and jaw pain.

5. Can children have bruxism?

Yes, children can experience bruxism, which is often temporary and related to the growth and development of their teeth. Most children outgrow this habit as they get older.

6. How is bruxism diagnosed?

A dentist can diagnose bruxism through a dental examination, evaluating tooth wear, jaw alignment, and signs of muscle tension in the jaw area. Sometimes, they might recommend a sleep study to monitor your nighttime jaw movements.

7. What treatment options are available for bruxism?

Treatment depends on the severity and underlying causes of bruxism. Common approaches include using a mouthguard or splint to protect teeth, stress management techniques, lifestyle changes, and, in some cases, dental or orthodontic procedures to correct misalignment.

8. Can stress management help with bruxism?

Yes, stress is a significant contributor to bruxism. Learning stress reduction techniques such as mindfulness, relaxation exercises, and even therapy can help reduce teeth grinding.

9. What is a nightguard, and how does it help with bruxism?

A nightguard, also known as a splint or occlusal guard, is a custom-made dental appliance that you wear over your teeth while sleeping. It helps create a barrier between the upper and lower teeth, preventing the damaging effects of grinding and clenching.

10. Can bruxism be cured?

While bruxism might not always be completely cured, its symptoms can be managed effectively. Through a combination of treatments, behavioral changes, and stress management, most people can significantly reduce the impact of bruxism on their dental health.