Bruxism(Teeth Grinding)


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By Medicover Hospitals / 08 Mar 2021
Home | symptoms | bruxism
  • Excessive grinding of the teeth or clenching of the jaw. This condition can affect adults and children and can occur day or night. Some people have no symptoms. Others may experience headaches, jaw pain, toothache, or dental problems. Children with this disease will often get better on their own. For adults, dental protectors can help protect teeth from damage.
  • Article Context:

    1. What is Bruxism?
    2. Causes
    3. Diagnosis
    4. Treatment
    5. When to See The Dentist?
    6. Preventions
    7. FAQ's

    What is Bruxism?

  • Bruxism occurs when a person grinds their teeth without chewing. Teeth grind or rub against each other when the jaw forcefully moves side to side or back and forth. Often the person is not aware that they are doing this.
  • Clenched teeth are when a person holds their teeth together and squeezes the muscles, but without moving the teeth back and forth.
  • People can grind or clench their teeth during the day and at night, but sleep-related bruxism poses a greater challenge because it's harder to control.
  • Bruxism is one of the most common sleep disorders. It is unconscious neuromuscular activity.
  • Myofascial muscle pain, temporomandibular joint dysfunction, and headaches may occur. Severe cases can lead to arthritis of the temporomandibular joints.
  • Causes:

  • There are many reasons why a person can grind their teeth. Several factors can also increase a person's risk of bruxism, including:
    • Age: Children are more likely to grind their teeth than adults. In fact, sleep-related bruxism affects 15% to 40% of children against 8% to 10% of adults.
    • Emotions: Frustration, stress, tension, anxiety, and repressed anger are all potential culprits behind teeth grinding.
    • Genetics: Bruxism runs in families. Children are almost twice as likely to get bruxism if a parent has it.
    • Medication: Research shows that certain medications are known to cause bruxism, including those that are used to treat psychiatric disorders. These drugs are believed to cause changes in the central nervous system that lead to teeth grinding and jaw clenching. Examples of such drugs include antipsychotics and antidepressants, particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac (fluoxetine), Zoloft (sertraline), and Paxil (paroxetine).
    • Personality: Bruxism has been associated with certain personality traits such as neuroticism.
    • Substance use: The use of cigarettes, caffeine, alcohol, and recreational drugs can increase the risk of bruxism.
  • Additionally, bruxism has been linked to certain medical conditions. These include:
    • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
    • Dementia
    • Epilepsy
    • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder (GERD)
    • The terrors of a night
    • Parkinson's disease
    • Sleep apnea (and other sleep-related disorders)


  • The sleeping partner or parent is often the first to notice the symptoms of bruxism in a loved one, as they can hear them grinding their teeth at night.
  • Bruxism is often diagnosed during a dental exam, during which the dentist will check for worn or broken teeth, damage to the inside of the cheek, tenderness of the jaw muscles, and TMJ. Your dentist may also take an x-ray to determine if there has been damage to the underlying bone tissue.
  • Since bruxism is associated with an increased risk of sleep apnea, you may also need to undergo a sleep study to assess episodes of teeth grinding and to determine if a sleep-related disorder is present.
  • Treatment:

  • The sleep study is recommended to rule out an airway problem, as crushing occurs mostly at night during sleep
    • If a bad airway is a contributing factor, treatment may be offered first for the airways and sometimes the teeth grinding will stop.
    • Each teeth grinding situation is handled uniquely, but often a dentist-fitted mouthguard is helpful. The mouthguard is worn during sleep to protect the teeth from grinding.
    • Dietary changes, postural modifications, emotional therapy, medications, injections, dental adjustments and dental work, orthodontics, surgery, are various treatments used.

    When to See The Dentist:

  • See a dentist immediately if you have difficulty eating or opening your mouth. Keep in mind that a wide variety of conditions, from arthritis to whiplash injuries, can cause symptoms of TMJ. Therefore, see your dentist for a full assessment if self-care measures do not help you within several weeks.
  • Grinding and tightening is not clearly a single medical discipline. There is no recognized ATM specialty in dentistry. For a message-based approach, seek a massage therapist trained in trigger point therapy, neuromuscular therapy, or clinical massage.
  • Dentists who have more experience with TMJ disorders usually take x-rays and prescribe a mouthguard. Surgery is now considered a last resort for TMJ.
    • Your skin does not improve despite your best efforts
    • Dry skin is accompanied by redness
    • Dryness and itching interfere with sleep
    • You have open sores or infections from scratching
    • You have large areas of peeling or peeling skin


  • Currently, there are no medications or dental therapies to stop teeth grinding. However, your dentist may equip you with a night protector (brace) to protect your teeth, muscles, and TMJ from excessive force during grinding episodes.
  • If stress is contributing to your bruxism, ask your doctor about stress reduction options and review your medications that may be contributing to bruxism. Attending stress counseling, starting an exercise program, seeing a physical therapist, or getting a prescription for muscle relaxers are some of the options that can reduce the effects of bruxism.
  • Here are some other tips for reducing teeth grinding:
    • Avoid or cut down on foods and drinks that contain caffeine, such as colas, chocolate, and coffee.
    • Avoid alcohol and smoking.
    • Do not chew on pencils or pens or anything that is not food. Avoid constant daily chewing of the gum.
    • Be aware not to clench your teeth during the day. If you squeeze or grind during the day, train your tongue to rest lightly behind your upper front teeth.

    Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Grinding of teeth and tightening of the jaw (also called bruxism) are often linked to stress or anxiety. It doesn't always cause symptoms, but some people experience facial pain and headaches, and it can wear down their teeth. Most people who grind their teeth and clench their jaws don't know they are doing it.
  • Sleep bruxism was associated with vitamin D deficiency and low calcium intake and was also associated with increased scores for anxiety and depression. Further investigation should be done to see if supplementation with vitamin D and calcium can relieve sleep bruxism.
  • In most cases, bruxism does not cause serious complications. But severe bruxism can lead to damage to teeth, restorations, crowns or the jaw, tension-type headache.
  • Citations:

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  • Bruxism -