What is Bruxism? – Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Bruxism is the grinding or clenching of your teeth. In this article, we outline its key symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment.


Symptoms of bruxism include:

  • Teeth grinding and clenching
  • Contractions of the jaw muscles
  • Grinding sound at night
  • Tight or painful jaw
  • Popping or clicking at the temporomandibular joint
  • Facial pain and soreness
  • Damaged, fractured, chipped, worn, or loose teeth and fillings
  • Headache
  • Earache
  • Swelling on side of lower jaw caused by clenching
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Increased tooth sensitivity


Experts are not completely sure what causes bruxism. Some consider it a habit, but others believe it can be a result of the following:

  • Bruxism is often related to stress, anxiety, frustration, tension, and anger.
  • Bruxism also often occurs during sleep so many are not aware they grind their teeth.
  • It can be a result of malocclusion, which is when the teeth and jaw don’t line up properly, resulting in an abnormal bite.
  • In rare cases, bruxism can be a side effect of some medicines that treat depression, and has been linked to SSRI antidepressants.
  • Those with a sleep disorder such as snoring, sleep apnoea, sleep paralysis, or talking during sleep are more likely to experience bruxism.
  • Lifestyle factors can impact bruxism, and alcohol, smoking, and caffeinated drinks can all encourage and worsen grinding.


Bruxism often happens during sleep or under stress. Hence, it can be difficult to diagnose as many are not aware they are grinding their teeth, particularly during sleep.

Bruxism is important to diagnose as soon as possible as if left untreated it can develop into worse issues including damaged teeth, tooth wear and temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD/TMJ) which is a disorder of the jaw bone.

You should attend regular check ups with your dentist who can examine the mouth for signs of grinding and determine the best treatment. You should also see your dentist if teeth are worn, damaged, or sensitive, if your jaw, face, or ear is painful, or if your partner says you make a grinding noise in your sleep.


There are a few things you can do to prevent bruxism and stop grinding your teeth:

  • If you grind your teeth when stressed, therapy and relaxation techniques can help to stop grinding.
  • You should cut down on tobacco and caffeine as they can worsen bruxism.
  • If you notice when you are clenching your teeth, you can train yourself to stop clenching or position your tongue in between your teeth to relax your jaw muscle.
  • Regular dental check-ups will also prevent further damage and help identify bruxism as soon as possible.


There are a number of different treatments for bruxism depending on the cause:

  • If you grind in your sleep, your dentist can fit you with a custom-made mouth guard to wear at night which acts as a physical barrier to prevent the teeth from scraping against each other and protects the teeth from wear and reduces pain and pressure on the jaw.
  • Biofeedback is a technique which controls muscle activity in the jaw to prevent grinding.
  • If grinding is a result of a sleeping disorder, you can get treatment for your sleep disorder.
  • If bruxism is a result of stress and anxiety, stress management techniques such as hypnosis, yoga, meditation, and muscle-relaxing exercises may help, as can cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and counselling.
  • If your teeth have become damaged and worn from grinding, your dentist can repair your teeth with fillings and crowns.

Do You Grind Your Teeth?

If you are experiencing the above symptoms and think you may be grinding your teeth, contact Bright & White Dental Spa or book an appointment now. Our dentists will examine your teeth to determine whether you have bruxism and decide the best course of treatment.

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