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Bruxism - What You Should Know?

Bruxism is a medical term that refers to the act of grinding or clenching the teeth, often involuntarily. This condition can occur during the day (awake bruxism) or at night (sleep bruxism) during sleep.

The cause is unknown, but it’s thought to be related to stress and anxiety.

There are many ways to treat bruxism, but it’s essential to seek help from a dentist specializing in orofacial pain, if the condition is causing significant pain in your jaws and teeth.

Besides causing tooth damage and making them more sensitive, it may also degrade restorations like crowns and fillings in your teeth. Sleep medicine can be crucial in addressing dental issues related to sleep disorders and promoting oral health.
dental attrition and the consequent loss of tooth tissue, illustrated with a medically accurate 3D representation of a tooth
Table of Contents

Types of Bruxism

Sleep Bruxism

Sleep bruxism occurs when a person is asleep.


Toothache or sensitivity.
Jaw Pain

Clinical Features

Involuntary grinding/clenching of teeth at sleep.
Pain in the jaw and neck.
Headaches, which resemble tension headaches in the morning.
Abnormal wear and tear on teeth. 

Awake Bruxism

Awake bruxism occurs when a person is awake.


Wear of tooth structure.
Pain on chewing.

Clinical Features

Semivoluntary grinding of teeth at stress.
Loss of tooth structure and restorations.
Muscle and joint pain.
Jaw locking.

Causes of Bruxism

Psychological Factors Play a Significant Role in Contributing to Bruxism

Stress, anxiety, or tension.
Repressed feelings of rage or frustration.
Character traits like aggressiveness, competitiveness, hyperactivity, or insomnia.

Bruxism May Be Associated With Growth and Development in Children

Researchers have hypothesized that children brux their teeth due to the malalignment between upper and lower teeth, which can affect muscle activity.

Others believe that children grind their teeth as a defense mechanism against the discomfort caused by earaches or teething.

Bruxism Is a Condition That Affects up to 30% of Children, Most of Whom Are Between the Ages of 5 and 6

It is common for children with bruxism to grind their baby teeth during sleep. 

Epidemiology studies have shown the prevalence of bruxism in this age group, highlighting the need for early intervention and management strategies.

Children With Severe Mental Retardation or Cerebral Palsy Are More Susceptible

Most children outgrow bruxism before they reach adulthood.

Stress and Dental Issues Aren’t the Only Possible Triggers for Bruxism

It can occur as a secondary symptom of other diseases, like Huntington’s and Parkinson’s disease. Additionally, bruxism can also be due to factors such as heart rate.

It Can Be a Rare Side Effect of Certain Medications Such as SSRIs and Antidepressants

Consulting with a healthcare professional is the best way to address this side effect and explore potential alternatives.

Risk Factors

Intense stress can cause jaw clenching and teeth grinding, leading to a sore jaw. In addition, behavioral therapy and relaxation techniques can help address these issues, as they focus on identifying and modifying harmful behaviors and thought patterns.
Young children are more prone to bruxism. By adulthood, the condition usually resolves.
Individuals with character traits such as aggressiveness, competitiveness, hyperactivity, smoking, and obstructive sleep apnea are susceptible to teeth grinding.
A higher risk of bruxism is associated with certain antidepressants, tobacco, alcohol, and recreational drugs.
It is prevalent in families who have a history of bruxism.
Seizures, sleep-related disorders, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder are some disorders that exacerbate bruxism.

Signs and Symptoms

Noises made by clenching or grinding one’s teeth during sleep could wake a sleeping partner.
The wearing down of tooth enamel.
Elevated levels of tooth sensitivity.
Pain in the jaw resulting from jaw tightness.
The tightening of the jaw muscles causes pain in the ear.
Mild headache upon waking up.
Chew marks on the inner cheek.

Diagnostic Features

A clinical diagnosis of bruxism is usually determined based on the person’s history (e.g., reports of grinding noises) and the manifestation of typical signs and symptoms, such as:
Tooth mobility.
Tooth wear.
Masseteric hypertrophy.
Indentations on the tongue.
Hypersensitive teeth (may be mistaken for reversible pulpitis).
Pain in the masticatory muscles and clicking or locking of the temporomandibular joints.


Most cases of bruxism don’t progress to anything serious. However, in severe cases, it can end up causing:
Damage to tooth’s enamel, jawbone, and dental restorations like fillings, crowns, bridges, and implants.
Extreme pain in the face or jaw.
It can lead to TMD (temporomandibular disorders), limited mouth opening, and jaw mobility.


Treatment is frequently unnecessary. Many children outgrow bruxism naturally, and many adults don’t brux to where therapy is necessary. In case the problem is severe, treatment choices include:

Combating Stress

Professional counseling that encourages relaxation, such as exercise and meditation, may help you if your bruxism is due to stress.
A warm bath or a beloved book may help a child who grinds their teeth because of fear.

Dentists Approach

Using a night guard will enable you to safeguard your teeth from brux-related injuries. A dentist can make a night guard that is perfect for you.
Although over-the-counter mouthguards are less expensive than custom guards, they also have drawbacks.
If misaligned teeth contribute to bruxism, dentists may recommend orthodontic treatment.

Behavioral Modification

If you observe bruxism, you can modify your behavior by implementing correct mouth and jaw positioning. There are two methods for doing this:
Focus on keeping your lips closed and teeth apart during the resting phase. 
The tooth should only be in contact when chewing or swallowing food.


The goal of biofeedback is to improve one’s health.

Recent research in small control groups shows that biofeedback can help with sleep bruxism and awake bruxism.

Electromyographic monitoring devices that alert during clenching and grinding may help treat awake bruxism.

In sleep bruxism, dental appliances with capsules that break and emit a taste stimulation are helpful to wake the person from sleep to prevent bruxism episodes.

There is no large-scale double-anonymized experiment to prove that these methods work.


Treatment of bruxism with medication is ineffective.

To promote better sleep, your doctor might recommend a muscle relaxant.

If bruxism develops as a side effect of an antidepressant drug, your doctor may adjust your dose or prescribe another medicine to treat your bruxism.

Individuals with bruxism who have not found relief from previous therapies may benefit from Botulinum toxin injections marketed as Botox.


These measures of self-care have the potential to either prevent or reduce bruxism:
Cut back on your consumption of caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol.
You can ease your stress and lower your chance of developing bruxism by taking a warm bath or walking briskly.
It’s possible that getting a good night’s sleep, which might involve getting treatment for sleep issues, will help reduce bruxism.
If you share a bed, ask your sleeping partner to let you know if they hear any sound of teeth grinding during sleep. This way, you can tell your dentist.
The best way to spot bruxism is through a dental exam. During routine checkups and examinations, your dentist can detect signs of teeth grinding or bruxism.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is bruxism?

Bruxism is a condition where teeth grind against each other, often leading to tooth wear and TMJ pain. The most common causes of bruxism are stress, malocclusion, and sleep apnea. Treatment may involve prescribing medication to stop the grinding, splints to hold the teeth in place, or surgery to repair damaged jaw muscles or TMJ.

How can I stop bruxism from causing pain and other problems?

If you’re experiencing pain and other problems related to bruxism, you should visit a dentist regularly for checkups and treatment plans. Many treatments are available for bruxism, including night guards, medications, and psychological therapy. Finding the treatment plan that works best for you is crucial to get long-term relief from your symptoms. Most people brux because they do not understand its causes and how to treat it. Too much grinding or clenching can cause damage to the tooth structure and myofascial pain. If you can identify the source of bruxism and start treating it with the available treatments, you may stop it from causing further complications.

Can bruxism be treated with medication or surgery?

Bruxism is treatable with medication or surgical intervention. In cases of chronic and severe bruxism, the best treatment may involve jaw surgery to repair the temporomandibular joint or the jaw. Medication is also recommended to reduce stress and sleep disorders and to relax the jaw muscles. Depending on the severity and type of bruxism, a doctor may prescribe the best treatment, which could include medication or surgery.

What are the symptoms of bruxism?

If teeth grinding takes place during sleep, you are likely experiencing bruxism. Bruxism is a dental disorder that causes excessive teeth grinding and can damage the jawbone. Some common symptoms of bruxism include headaches, neck pain, TMJ (temporomandibular joint) pain, toothaches, and difficulty opening the mouth. It’s essential to seek treatment for bruxism as it can damage the surrounding structures of the jawbone and tooth.

Why is it important to treat bruxism?

People suffering from bruxism grind their teeth while sleeping or awake. The result of bruxism is usually tooth wear, pain, and impaired jaw function. Treatment may be necessary to reduce the effects of bruxism.


Although bruxism is more prevalent among children, it can affect people of any age, especially during increased stress or fatigue.

There are several treatments available for bruxism, including therapy and oral appliances.

If you or any family members experience any symptoms of bruxism or other issues relating to teeth or jaw, consult a dentist.