By Medically reviewed by hellodoktor

Know the basics

What is bruxism?

Bruxism is a condition in which you grind or clench your teeth. This condition may happen during the day or at night, which can annoy people around you. Bruxism at night, also known as sleep bruxism, can also lead to other sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.

Mild bruxism may not need any treatment. However, frequent bruxism may lead to other disorders such as jaw pain, headaches, teeth damages,…

How common is bruxism?

Bruxism is a common condition. It can happen unconsciously and develop complications so it is important for you to notice the signs and symptoms of bruxism.

Know the symptoms

What are the symptoms of bruxism?

Signs and symptoms of bruxism may include:

  • Grinding or clenching teeth;
  • Flattened, fractured, chipped or loose teeth;
  • Worn tooth enamel, exposing deeper layers of your tooth;
  • High sensitivity in the teeth;
  • Pain in the jaw or face;
  • Tiredness or tightness in the jaw muscles;
  • Earache-like pain;
  • Headache in the temples;
  • Difficulty chewing;
  • Indentations on your tongue.

When should I see my doctor?

Seek for your doctor or dentist if:

  • Your teeth are worn, damaged or becoming sensitive;
  • You have pain in your jaw, face or ear;
  • You make a grinding noise while you sleep;
  • You have a locked jaw that won’t open or close completely.

Know the causes

What causes bruxism?

The exact cause of bruxism is still unknown. However, possible causes of this condition may include:

  • Emotions, such as anxiety, stress, anger, frustration or tension;
  • Personal characteristics such as aggressive, or hyperactive type;
  • Abnormal structure of the teeth;
  • Other sleep problems;
  • Reaction to other pain from ear or teeth;
  • Stomach acid reflux into the esophagus;
  • An uncommon side effect of some psychiatric medications, such as phenothiazines or certain antidepressants;
  • A bad habit happening when stressing or focusing;
  • Complication from a disorder such as Huntington’s disease or Parkinson’s disease.

Know the risk factors

What increases my risk of bruxism?

These following factors can increase your risk of bruxism:

  • Stress.
  • Age. Bruxism is likely to happen in young children, but it tend to disappear after few years.
  • Personality type such as aggressive, competitive or hyperactive type.
  • Smoking, drinking caffeinated beverages or alcohol, or taking illegal drugs such as methamphetamine or Ecstasy may increase the risk of bruxism.

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is bruxism diagnosed?

The dentist will check for signs of bruxism through your regular dental check. If the bruxism is detected, he/she may ask you about your dental health, your daily routines, medications you are using or your habits to know the causes.

To evaluate the extent of bruxism, your dentist may check for:

  • Tenderness in your jaw muscles;
  • Abnormalities in your teeth structure;
  • Damage to your teeth, the underlying bone and the inside of your cheeks, usually with the help of X-rays

A dental exam may detect other disorders that can cause similar jaw or ear pain, such as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, other dental problems or an ear infection.

You may be referred to a therapist, counselor or sleep specialist. A sleep specialist may do other tests, such as records for sleep apnea, video monitoring and measuring how often your jaw muscles tighten while you sleep.

How is bruxism treated?

Treatment for bruxism is often unnecessary as it tends to disappear through time. However, if the condition is getting worse then doctors may recommend you following treatments:

  • If the teeth structure is abnormal, the doctor may use splints and mouth guards to keep teeth separated to avoid the damage caused by clenching and grinding. In severe cases — when tooth wear has led to sensitivity or the inability to chew properly — your dentist may need to reshape the chewing surfaces of your teeth or use crowns. In certain cases, your dentist may recommend braces or oral surgery.
  • If bruxism is caused by emotional factors such as stress, you can prevent the problem with professional counseling or strategies that promote relaxation, such as exercise or meditation. You may also try practicing proper mouth and jaw position. You can also benefit from biofeedback, a form of complementary medicine that uses monitoring procedures and equipment to teach you to control muscle activity in your jaw.
  • In some cases, your doctor may suggest taking a muscle relaxant before bedtime. Botox injections can also help with severe bruxism. If you develop bruxism as a side effect of a medication, your doctor may change your medication or prescribe a different one.

Lifestyle changes & Home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage bruxism?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you reduce the risk of bruxism:

  • Manage stress. Keep yourself relaxing to reduce your risk of developing bruxism.
  • Avoid stimulating factors especially in the evening. Don’t drink caffeine or tea after dinner, avoid alcohol and smoking during the evening.
  • Practice good sleep habits.
  • If you have a sleeping partner, ask him or her to tell you if you make any grinding or clicking sounds while sleeping so that you can report this to your doctor.
  • Schedule regular dental exams. Dental exams are the best way to identify bruxism.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Review Date: August 18, 2016 | Last Modified: September 12, 2019

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