HomeDental ProblemsWhat is Bruxism (Teeth grinding)? Causes and Treatment

What is Bruxism (Teeth grinding)? Causes and Treatment

What is Bruxism?

Bruxism or teeth grinding is habitual unconscious, involuntary, excessive grinding or gnashing or clenching of teeth. It may occur during sleep or when a person is awake.

Types of Bruxism :

Sleep or nocturnal bruxism :

If unconscious, involuntary, excessive grinding or clenching of teeth occurs during sleep then it’s called sleep or nocturnal bruxism.

Wakeful or diurnal bruxism :

If it occurs when a person is awake, then it’s called wakeful or diurnal bruxism.

Signs and Symptoms :

  • Dull Headache
  • Facial pain
  • Teeth sensitivity
  • Flattened teeth tips (attrition)
  • Fractured teeth
  • Soreness of Jaw or Jaw pain (TMJ disorder)
  • Painful and loosening of teeth
  • Damage to cheek/cheek biting
  • Locking of the jaw
teeth flattening

What are the causes of Bruxism?

Psychological : Stress, anxiety, fear, and emotional tension may lead to bruxism or grinding teeth, or clenching of teeth. It is the most common.

According to Polysomnographic studies, bruxism is part of the sleep arousal response which is a sudden change in depth of sleep.

People with aggressive, competitive, or hyperactive personalities may also develop grinding teeth.

Occupational : Certain types of occupations may responsible, Athletes who engage in physical activities may develop Clenching of teeth.

Local factors : In cases of more missing teeth, bruxism may develop as a person tries to maintain maximum contact with teeth. Occlusal disturbances or an abnormal bite are also the cause behind the grinding of teeth. Consult a dentist to know the actual cause.

Systemic factors : Gastrointestinal and endocrine disturbances, allergy, and nutritional deficiency.

Sleep disorder : Sleep disorder such as sleep apnea is also considered a cause of grinding teeth.

Other causes : According to a study in the Journal of American dental association, people who consume alcohol, and tobacco and are smokers are more likely to develop Clenching teeth.

Drinking alcohol increases the risk of bruxism by 2 times, 1.5 times for those who consume 8 or more cups of coffee a day, and more than 2 times for those who are smokers and chew tobacco.

  • Certain medications may also be responsible factors.
  • Chewing a pencil, pen, toothpick, etc. leads to Clenching of teeth.

You should consult the dentist before reaching any conclusion about the cause.

Treatment for Bruxism :

Psychological approach :

Finding and solving psychological issues like stress and anxiety, emotional tension, and fear. Counseling or psychotherapy can help to cure the deep psychological issues of patients.

Mouthguard :

Nightguards, occlusal splints, bite plates,  removable orthodontic appliances, etc. are useful to protect teeth and periodontal tissue. Ask your dentist about it.

Medications :

Medications like muscle relaxants can help to reduce teeth grinding. If you are taking antidepressants or stress-relieving medicines tell about it to the dentist.

Also read :

  1. Bertazzo-Silveira, Eduardo et al. “Association between sleep bruxism and alcohol, caffeine, tobacco, and drug abuse: A systematic review.” Journal of the American Dental Association (1939) vol. 147,11 (2016) : https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adaj.2016.06.014
  2. Mayoclinic : Bruxism
Dr. Shubham G. Devaiya, BDS
Dr. Shubham G. Devaiya, BDS
Dr. Shubham G. Devaiya is a registered Dentist and Medical content writer. He owns DentalFord and publishes content related to Oral Health for Oral Health Awareness.



Disclaimer : All the information on the page is for educational purposes only to make you aware, you can’t take it as a substitute for medical advice. If you are facing any health issues it is advised to take direct Medical help from medical professionals immediately.