What Is Bruxism?
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Bruxism - Teeth Grinding

Published on Mar 07, 2020 and last reviewed on Aug 04, 2023   -  4 min read


Bruxism is a condition where people grind or clench their teeth unconsciously while awake or sleeping. Read below to know more.

Bruxism - Teeth Grinding


Ever wondered why your child is grinding his or her teeth or clenching the jaw? This habit is called bruxism, and it can result in permanent damage to teeth. The signs and symptoms of bruxism involve pain and tenderness of the jaw, headache, and worn out teeth surfaces. If you suspect you have this condition, then see a dentist at the earliest. A custom-made mouthguard can be fabricated to help relieve the symptoms.

What Is Bruxism?

Bruxism is clenching or grinding of the teeth, which is not a part of normal chewing movements. This clenching and grinding movements are not normal for the jaws. It can lead to excessive teeth wear and can cause permanent damage to the teeth and jaw joints. It can occur in adults or children, during the day or at night. Patients cannot control this habit of excessive grinding, especially when it occurs at night, as it is involuntary.

The function of three muscle groups the jaws (temporalis, masseter, and lateral pterygoid) are associated with bruxism. The force with which jaw is clenched determines the force of tooth grinding. Clenching or grinding of teeth does not occur if the individual clenches, or if the mouth is open. When the jaw is relaxed, movement occurs in a forward and backward direction and to either side.

Why Do Children Grind and Clench Their Teeth?

The common reasons are:

  1. Because of having some kind of pain - either teething or earaches.

  2. They might be under stress.

  3. A hyperactive child.

  4. Misaligned teeth.

  5. Some types of allergy.

  6. When they lose their deciduous teeth and gain permanent teeth.

  7. Dehydration.

What Are the Causes of Bruxism in Adults?

Both physical and psychological factors contribute to bruxism. Physical stress, illness, nutritional inadequacy or malnutrition, dehydration, psychological stress, anxiety, and tension can cause bruxism. Other causes include sleep disorders, abnormal anatomy of the teeth or jaws, and high points on fillings that can cause an improper occlusion.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Bruxism?

Depending on the nature, frequency, duration, and severity of excessive clenching and grinding, the signs and symptoms include:

  • Pain in the teeth.

  • Tooth sensitivity to heat and cold.

  • Chronic muscular facial pain with tension headaches because of intense muscle contraction.

  • Clenching noise, noticed by family members or friends that occurs when teeth are ground together.

  • An abnormal alignment of the teeth, caused by uneven tooth wear.

  • Attrited or flattened or worn out tooth surfaces.

  • Tooth fracture.

  • Broken or chipped teeth.

  • Loose teeth with possible damage to the tooth socket.

  • Stiffness and pain in the temporomandibular joint that causes reduced opening and difficultly chewing.

  • Sometimes, the jaw joint may suffer damage that is slow to heal.

  • Earache or pain in the jaw joint.

People who clench their teeth lightly only get tension-related headaches and little or no damage to the teeth or jaw joint. When there is tight clenching of teeth, then there will be minimal pressure on jaw joints. Individuals experiencing severe grinding may have damaged teeth and also suffer from jaw joint problems. On the other hand, individuals with mild tooth grinding may have worn out teeth surfaces but no jaw pain or teeth sensitivity. These individuals may not even realize that they are suffering from the habit of bruxism.

How Is Bruxism Treated?

Before treatment, your dentist needs to know your medical history. Tell the dentist if you have:

- had an allergy or bad reaction to antibiotics, anesthetics, or other medicines.

- Previous treatment related to bruxism or jaw surgery.

- Psychological distress or psychiatric illness.

- Give the list of medicines you are taking or have recently taken.

Treatment of bruxism aims to:

  1. Find and remove the causes of bruxism.

  2. Change the behavior that causes bruxism.

  3. Repair the damage that is caused by bruxism.

1) Finding and Removing the Causes of Bruxism:

Your dentist will look for local problems that are likely to lead to abnormal contact among upper and lower teeth. Your bite may need to be improved. If pain is a symptom, your dentist will look for related causes, such as an ear infection or a temporomandibular disorder. Your dentist may prescribe-

  • Painkillers for muscular facial pain.

  • Headaches and jaw joint pain.

  • Muscle relaxant medication to help relax the jaw muscles.

In cases having general health problems, an examination by a medical practitioner, counseling, and stress management is necessary.

2) Changing Bruxism Behavior:

Therapy aims to achieve changes in behavior by educating the patient how to rest the mouth. An occlusal splint or night guard is an option for someone with mild to severe grinding behavior and is worn at night. The splint is made from a moulded plastic that fits over the upper or lower teeth. It prevents further wear of the tooth surfaces.

Biofeedback - Biofeedback techniques use electronic monitors to measure tension in the jaw muscles so that people use the monitors to learn how to relax their muscles and reduce tension.

3) Repairing Damaged Teeth:

  • For damaged tooth surfaces - Dental fillings, crowns, and inlay.

  • Cases with fracture extended to pulp - Root canal treatment.

  • Badly damaged teeth - Extraction.

  • Missing teeth replacement - Partial dentures, dental bridges, and implants.

  • Orthodontic treatment can realign misplaced teeth.

What Are the Home Remedies for Bruxism?

Apart from mouthguards to prevent further damage to your teeth from bruxism, the following are some other helpful steps to relieve the pain. The following are some self-care steps that you can take at home.

  • Facial and jaw muscle relaxation during day time.

  • Neck, shoulder and face muscle massage.

  • Stretching exercise targeting the head and neck area.

  • Stay away from hard foods like nuts, candies or steak.

  • Drink plenty of water every day.

  • Reduce mental stress and learn relaxation techniques.

  • Get plenty of sleep.

Frequently Asked Questions


How Can We Withdraw Bruxism?

- Wear a night-time mouthguard.
- Stress-counselling.
- Starting regular exercises.
- Getting muscle relaxants.
- Relax jaw muscles at night by placing a warm washcloth against the cheek.
- Avoid caffeine.
- Avoid alcohol.
- Avoid chewing on items other than food.


Which Medication Causes Bruxism?

Antipsychotic drugs and antidepressants, in specific, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors like Fluoxetine, Paroxetine, and Sertraline, cause bruxism.


How Can Bruxism Be Fixed At Home?

- Doing muscle stretching exercises.
- Using warm compresses.
- Using a night guard.
- Practicing meditation and yoga.
- Drinking turmeric milk and herbal tea.
- Consuming magnesium-rich food.


What Is the Cause of Bruxism?

Bruxism can be of two types, namely awake bruxism and sleep bruxism. Of which, awake bruxism is due to stress, anxiety, frustration, anger, or coping habits to gain concentration. Sleep bruxism is caused by arousals during sleep, an abnormal bite, stress, and malaligned teeth.


What Is Meant by Bruxism Grinding?

Bruxism is involuntary grinding or clenching of the teeth unconsciously when you are awake or at night while sleeping, which is associated with fear, anxiety, stress, or occlusal irregularities.


Which Muscle Contraction Occurs During Bruxism?

Temporalis muscles and masseter muscles which help in jaw-closing activity, and lateral pterygoid muscles, which help in lateral movements of the jaw, are involved in Bruxism. If the accessory muscles of the neck are involved in bruxism, it may cause head and neck pain.


How Can We Fix Damage Caused by Bruxism?

In case of minor damage caused by bruxism, dental bonding or veneers help in fixing the damage. If the damage is severe, crown placement is the treatment of choice, as the extensive tooth structure is involved.


How Can We Cure Bruxism?

Bruxism in children does not require any treatment and goes away on its own. Also, in adults with minimal grinding or clenching, treatment is not needed. However, if the problem is severe, then dental treatments, psychological therapies, and medications help in curing bruxism.


Can Bruxism Be Fully Cured?

Although bruxism does not have a permanent cure, the frequency of bruxism and damage caused by bruxism can be reduced, and symptoms can be relieved with treatment.


How Does Bruxism Pain Feel?

Bruxism pain in the jaws is present as a dull pain, while in the bone, it is felt as sharp, electric pain. In the jaw muscles, it is exhibited as pain and tension in the muscles.


Is Bruxism Caused by Anxiety?

Anxiety increases the amount of adrenaline in the body which under immobilization of the body is utilized in teeth clenching. Bruxism is most often associated with stress and anxiety.


Is Teeth Ruined by Bruxism?

Bruxism results in tooth enamel loss making the teeth more prone to decay, causing pain in the teeth, especially the back teeth and jaw pain.


Is Bruxism a Severe Condition?

Bruxism is not always associated with severe complications, and it can damage the teeth, restorations, crowns, jaws and produce tension headaches.


Which Vitamin Deficiency Causes Bruxism?

Deficiency of vitamin D and calcium may result in bruxism which can be dealt with by consuming a nutritious and well-balanced diet and taking nutritional supplements if needed.


Can Muscle Relaxants Help With Bruxism?

Injecting a muscle relaxant in the masseter muscle helps in controlling bruxism.


How Can Bruxism Be Stopped in Children?

Relaxing before going to bed by taking a warm bath, listening to soothing music, and reading a book may help in stopping bruxism in children, both in bruxism caused by physical and psychological reasons.


What Causes Night Grinding in Children?

The exact cause of bruxism in children is not clearly known. However, it has been reported that it may be due to malaligned teeth, or it may be a response to teething or dental pain.


What Is Meant by Bruxism Splint?

Bruxism splints are also known as mouthguards, which help in maintaining an even pressure in the jaws and reduce the contact between the upper and lower teeth, thereby reducing damage caused by bruxism.

Last reviewed at:
04 Aug 2023  -  4 min read




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