Clenching or grinding of the teeth (bruxism) is a common activity that can occur both during the day and at night.

Clenching or grinding (see Box to Right) while awake is especially common during periods of concentration, anger, or stress, and often occurs without a person being aware of it. Once a person is made aware of the habit, it can potentially be stopped or reduced by behavior modification.

Bruxism during sleep is very different from bruxism while awake. Sleep bruxism is not under a person’s conscious control and usually occurs throughout the night during periods of arousal as a person goes from a deeper stage of sleep to a lighter stage of sleep.

Most people probably grind and clench their teeth from time to time. Occasional teeth grinding, medically called bruxism, does not usually cause harm, but when teeth grinding occurs on a regular basis, the teeth can be damaged and other oral health complications can arise. Get your treatment for this with us.

Risk factors

These factors increase your risk of bruxism:

  • Stress: Increased anxiety or stress can lead to teeth grinding. So can anger and frustration.
  • Age: Bruxism is common in young children, but it usually goes away by adulthood.
    Personality type. Having a personality type that’s aggressive, competitive or hyperactive can increase your risk of bruxism.
  • Medications and other substances: Bruxism may be an uncommon side effect of some psychiatric medications, such as certain antidepressants. Smoking tobacco, drinking caffeinated beverages or alcohol, or using recreational drugs may increase the risk of bruxism.
  • Family members with bruxism: Sleep bruxism tends to occur in families. If you have bruxism, other members of your family also may have bruxism or a history of it.
  • Other disorders: Bruxism can be associated with some mental health and medical disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia, gastroesophageal reflux disorder
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Questions & Answers

What causes sleep bruxism?

The exact cause of sleep bruxism is not known, however, it has been found to be associated with several factors such as daytime stress, anxiety, obstructive sleep apnea, loud snoring, heavy alcohol use, caffeine, smoking, and certain antidepressant drugs.

How is sleep bruxism diagnosed?

The dentist can usually diagnose sleep bruxism by taking a thorough history and performing a clinical examination. A history of jaw discomfort or fatigue upon awakening in the morning along with a finding of excessive tooth wear or enlarged jaw muscles is very suggestive of sleep bruxism.

How is bruxism treated?

Daytime bruxism can usually be effectively treated by behavioral modification and habit reversal. This may be as simple as making the person aware of the habit and then placing visual cues around the home and work area to alert the person to check and be sure that their teeth are apart.

For sleep bruxism, a splint or bite guard worn at night is usually a cornerstone of treatment (see Right).

How it can be treated by self?

  • Drink lots of fluids. Water is best.
  • If your jaw is sore, apply ice or wet heat.
  • Don’t chew gum—this can make pain worse.
  • Stay away from hard candies, nuts, steak, and other foods that are difficult to chew.
  • Try to relax your face throughout the day.
  • Manage Stress

How stress and anxiety can be treated?

If the underlying cause of your teeth grinding is stress or anxiety, psychological treatments, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), may help.

If your teeth grinding is stress-related, it’s important to try to relax and get a good night’s sleep. There are a number of things you can try to help you wind down before you go to bed, including:

  • yoga
  • deep breathing
  • massage
  • reading
  • having a bath
  • listening to music

Which are the Complications caused by bruxism?

In most cases, bruxism doesn’t cause serious complications. But severe bruxism may lead to:

  • Damage to your teeth, restorations, crowns or jaw
  • Tension-type headaches
  • Severe facial or jaw pain
  • Disorders that occur in the temporomandibular joints (TMJs), located just in front of your ears, which may sound like clicking when you open and close your mouth

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