Bruxism Symptoms and Treatment

Bruxism Symptoms and Treatment

We all tend to clench our teeth occasionally– while chewing, in stress, or sometimes in anger. However, many people grind or clench their teeth too often, usually subconsciously and this condition is called bruxism. People with bruxism may clench their teeth when awake or during sleep. Let’s understand more about bruxism, its symptoms, treatment and dental consequences.

What is Bruxism?

Bruxism is a medical condition characterized by unconscious or subconscious clenching, grinding, or gnashing of teeth. Though usually harmless, bruxism can hurt your jaws, teeth and jaw joint (the temporomandibular joint or TMJ). Based on when you clench your teeth, you may have awake or sleep bruxism.

Bruxism usually does not have one identifiable cause and may result from multiple factors. Based on the causative factors, bruxism can be of the following two types:

  • Primary Bruxism

This type of bruxism usually arises by itself and not due to another condition. Some common causes of primary bruxism are:

  • Misaligned teeth resulting in an improper bite
  • Teeth eruption (seen in around 40% of young children)
  • Stress (usually chronic)
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol and caffeine consumption
  • Secondary Bruxism

This type of bruxism usually arises secondary to another pre-existing condition such as:

  • Mental health conditions like anxiety and depression
  • Neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease
  • Taking medications like antipsychotics or antidepressants
  • Sleep disorders like sleep apnea

Mild cases of bruxism usually do not cause significant damage and behavioral modifications can help resolve the habit. Severe or untreated bruxism, however, can result in long-term complications like teeth sensitivity, gum inflammation, bone loss around teeth leading to loosening of teeth, damage to existing dental fillings, crowns and bridges, tooth fractures, muscle spasms, and damage to the TMJ.

Symptoms of Bruxism

Most people with bruxism are unaware of their condition. This is particularly true if you have night bruxism. Some signs and symptoms of bruxism that you may experience include:

  • Disrupted sleep
  • Waking up with a headache or facial pain in the morning
  • Earaches
  • Flattening of your teeth surfaces
  • Chipping or fracture in one or more teeth
  • Loosening teeth
  • Increased sensitivity in all teeth
  • Generalized pain or discomfort in all teeth
  • Soreness in the jaw joint, neck or face
  • Dull headache that originates in the temple region
  • Tiredness in the jaw muscles or inability to open your mouth too wide
  • Injury on the insides of your cheeks

How is Bruxism Treated?

Whether you have been told about your bruxism or not, a routine visit to your dentist can help diagnose the condition. Dentists are trained to detect, manage and treat bruxism. If your dentist suspects you have bruxism, they will thoroughly evaluate your teeth, bite, muscles, and TMJ to look for signs. Your dentist can easily diagnose bruxism by a physical valuation, symptomatic and medical history.

One of the first things your dentist will do is establish the cause of your bruxism. This helps them determine the appropriate treatment plan and management measures. Commonly used treatment measures for bruxism are:

  • Correction of improper bite

If the cause of your bruxism is misaligned teeth resulting in an improper bite, correcting the bite using orthodontics or crown and bridge procedures can resolve your teeth grinding habit.

  • Mouth guards or splints

Mouth guards or splints are rubber or plastic trays worn on upper and lower teeth to reduce their contact and even out the pressure from grinding. This is one of the first treatment options for bruxism.

  • Medications

If your bruxism is causing pain in your facial muscles or soreness in the TMJ and neck area, your doctor may prescribe pain-relieving medications to help you feel comfortable. Sometimes, medicines may be prescribed to relax your muscles, giving them to chance to repair themselves and reduce your symptoms.

  • Treating the underlying condition

If your bruxism is secondary to an underlying condition, your doctor will aim to treat that or refer you to an appropriate specialist. Treating the underlying condition usually resolves bruxism in many patients.

Apart from the treatment options mentioned above, you can also try the following home remedies to manage and prevent your bruxism:

  • Practice meditation, mindfulness or yoga to reduce your stress and anxiety levels
  • Avoid drinking caffeinated drinks in the evenings
  • Ensure good sleeping habits for a good night’s sleep
  • Visit your dentist regularly


Bruxism is more common than we think it is, and most people are diagnosed a lot later as they are unaware of this condition. Severe cases of bruxism that result in severe dental deterioration require extensive teeth and gum treatments to restore their oral health and their ability to bite and chew properly. If you or anyone you know may have this condition, visit us at Shams Dental clinic for a quick routine checkup and affordable quality treatment for your condition.

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