Bruxism & Teeth Grinding | Dental Treatment Guide

Bruxism is nothing but grinding your teeth, normally accompanied by a clenching of the jaw. You can clench and grind your teeth both during the day and the night, and never be aware of it. Some people clench their teeth only during sleep, and this is called nocturnal bruxism, while others may do this during the day as well. Many experts are of the view that bruxism is simply a habit.

Causes of bruxism & teeth grinding

There are a number of causes that have been linked to bruxism.

Stress or anxiety.

Malocclusion, where the upper and lower teeth don’t fit together properly.

Smoking, excessive drinking, SSRIs or certain drugs like amphetamine.

Sleep disorders.

Antidepression medication.

It can also be a symptom of a rare neuromuscular disease of the face.

Effects of Bruxism & teeth grinding

People who grind their teeth together can cause the outer enamel of the teeth to slowly wear away, leading to sensitivity of the teeth.

Excessive grinding can also damage teeth and dental fillings.

Bruxism has also been linked to pain in the face, morning headaches, and certain jaw dysfunction disorders.

Bruxism can also cause temporomandibular joint problems.

If the bruxism is really noisy, your partner’s sleep may be disturbed.

Other effects include:

  • Loose teeth.
  • Gum pockets.
  • Recession of gums.
  • Worn-out teeth.

Symptoms of teeth grinding & bruxism

The symptoms of bruxism include:

  • Stress and anxiety.
  • Pain in the ear.
  • Depression.
  • Insomnia.
  • Headache.
  • Eating disorders.
  • Pain in the jaw.
  • Damaged teeth.
  • Injured gums.
  • Damaged dental fillings.

Diagnosis of teeth grinding & bruxism

If you experience any of the signs of bruxism, consult a dentist. He will conduct a complete examination of your mouth with special attention to your jaw. He will check for missing or broken teeth, improper tooth alignment, and tenderness in the muscles of your jaw. He will enquire about your sleeping habits, any stress medication that you take etc. He may also want to talk to the person who shares your bedroom to check for grinding in your sleep. If he suspects bruxism, he will recommend a series of mouth X-rays.

In case of bruxism in children, discuss the problem with your dentist. Although most children out grow this phase, it can still lead to teeth damage.

How long does bruxism last ?

In children who grind their teeth between the age of 3 & 10, more than 60% will stop this behavior by the time they turn 13, without any outside interference. In adults and teenagers, the duration of bruxism depends on the cause. If it is stress-related, bruxism can last for many years. If it is related to dental problems, such as improper alignment of the teeth, bruxism normally stops when the teeth are realigned.

Treatment of teeth grinding and bruxism

If the bruxism is stress-related, your dentist may recommend counselling or therapy to remove the source of stress. He may also suggest biofeedback exercises to encourage you to relax. He may also prescribe a muscle relaxant to ease jaw spasms.

If the bruxism is linked to dental problems, your dentist will first look at correcting the teeth alignment. He may use crowns or onlays to give a new shape to the teeth biting surfaces. He may design a mouth guard that fits your mouth and teeth. A bite plate that can be worn in the day or night acts as a guard protecting the teeth from the impact of the grinding. Over-the-counter guards are not very comfortable and do not take into account malocclusion, which may be the cause of your bruxism. A custom-made bite plate accounts for occlusal problems.

If bruxism has developed as a result of anti-depression medications, your doctor can either switch you to a different medication, or recommend another medicine to treat bruxism.

Botox or botulinum toxin has been found to be very successful in treating bruxism. It weakens muscles, but is not absorbed into the body. Treatment involves 5 or 6 painless injections, although people who have stronger muscles need more Botox. Botox has been seen to relieve clenching or grinding, soreness of the jaw, temporomandibular joint pain, neck pain and migraines that are caused by clenching.

There is some research that suggests that taking vitamin supplements of magnesium, calcium and pantothenic acid and lavender can relieve the symptoms of bruxism.

A repositioning splint looks very much like a night guard, but is designed to affect the bite of the teeth. These have not been found to have great benefits, however.
NTI-tss devices that cover the front teeth and protect the rear molars can also be considered.


In conclusion, call your dentist if you notice broken tooth, loose fillings, and loose teeth, or if people notice that you grind your teeth in your sleep. Most children will stop by age 13 even without help, and your dentist can design a bite plate to be worn at night to prevent damage to teeth. In adults and teenagers, the prognosis is excellent if proper treatment is taken.