Bruxism (teeth grinding)
Bruxism is chronic, involuntary grinding or clenching of teeth. It usually occurs during sleep, but it may also occur while awake.
The exact cause of bruxism is unknown, but it is believed to be related to:
- Stress and anxiety
- Abnormal alignment of the teeth or jaws
Risk factors that increases your chance of getting bruxism include:
- Chronic stress or anxiety
- Aggressive or competitive personality
- Abuse of drugs or alcohol (especially methamphetamines)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Age: 40 or younger; especially common in women aged 27-40
- Family member with bruxism
- Facial or oral trauma
- Use of psychiatric medications, especially antidepressants
- Prior serious head injury
Symptoms may include:
- Grinding sounds during sleep
- Teeth that are sensitive to heat, cold, or brushing
- Tense facial or jaw muscles
- Hairline cracks of the enamel on some teeth
- Sore teeth
- Inflammation of the gums ( gingivitis)
- Headache, especially when waking in the morning
- Damage to the inside of the cheek (from biting or chewing)
- Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD)
The doctor or dentist will ask about your symptoms and medical history. An examination of your teeth and jaw will be done. With bruxism, teeth will have flattened tips, excessive wear, or thin enamel.
Methods of treatment include:
Behavioral or Cognitive Treatment
This method focuses on changing behavior through various techniques, such as:
- Stress management
- Relaxation therapy or exercises
Your dentist may recommend a protective mouth appliance, such as a night guard. It can absorb the pressure of constant night grinding.
The same methods used to treat bruxism can be used to prevent the condition.
Academy of General Dentistry
American Dental Association
Canadian Dental Association
The Canadian Dental Hygienists Association
Bruxism. University of Virginia Health System website. Available at: http://uvahealth.com/services/dentistry/conditions-treatments-1/11995/?searchterm=bruxism. Accessed January 22, 2013.
Chang H. Botulism toxin: use in disorders of the temporomandibular joint. Dent Today. 2005;24:48,50-1; quiz 51.
Tan EK, Jankovic J. Treating severe bruxism with botulinum toxin. J Am Dent Assoc. 2000;131:211-216.
Teeth grinding. American Dental Association's Mouth Healthy website. Available at: http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/t/teeth-grinding.aspx. Accessed January 22, 2013.
Last reviewed September 2012 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.