Bruxism is when a person grinds or clenches their teeth but is unaware they are doing it. It usually happens during sleep. If left untreated, it can lead to teeth and jaw problems.
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The exact cause is not known. Many things may play a role, such as:
- Stress and anxiety
- Poor alignment of the teeth or jaws
This problem is more common in children and young adults. Other things that may raise the risk are:
- Having a lot of stress and anxiety
- Taking certain medicines, such as antidepressants
- Smoking tobacco
- Drinking items that have caffeine
- Abuse of drugs or alcohol
- Mental health problems, such as post-traumatic stress disorder
- Having other family members with bruxism
- Having certain health problems, such as Parkinson disease
Problems may be:
- Grinding teeth during sleep
- Teeth that are sensitive to heat, cold, or brushing
- Teeth that are worn down, flattened, fractured, or chipped
- Sore teeth
- Swollen gums
- Damage to the inside of the cheek—from biting or chewing
- Tense facial or jaw muscles
- Headache, especially when waking in the morning
The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. An exam of the teeth and jaw will be done. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.
This problem may go away on its own in some people, especially children and young adults. In others, the goal is to manage symptoms and prevent damage. Options are:
There are no known methods to prevent this health problem.
- Bruxism (teeth grinding or clenching). Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: https://www.kidshealth.org/en/parents/bruxism.html.
- Bruxism:teeth grinding at night. National Sleep Foundation website. Available at: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/bruxism.
- Management of temporomandibular disorders. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/management-of-temporomandibular-disorders.
- Manfredini D, Lobbezoo F. Sleep bruxism and temporomandibular disorders: A scoping review of the literature. J Dent. 2021;111:103711
- Teeth grinding. Mouth Healthy—American Dental Association website. Available at: http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/t/teeth-grinding.
- Daniel A. Ostrovsky, MD
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