Loading icon
Press enter or spacebar to select a desired language.
Health Information Center


  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:



(Teeth Grinding)


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.

Closed Jaw.

Nucleus factsheet imagehttp://services.epnet.com/getimage.aspx?imageiid=48784878si55551305_ma.jpgsi55551305_ma.jpgNULLjpgJaw and teeth-skeletalNULL\\filer01a\Intellect\images\si55551305_ma.jpgNULL12NULL2004-04-14254390Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


The exact cause is not known. Many things may play a role, such as:

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Poor alignment of the teeth or jaws

Risk Factors

This problem is more common in children and young adults. Other things that may raise the risk are:


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:

  • Correcting teeth that are not aligned
  • Wearing a mouth guard at night to protect the teeth
  • Therapy methods to change the behavior, such as cognitive behavioral therapy or relaxation therapy
  • Medicines, such as:
    • Muscle relaxants
    • Sleeping aids
    • Botox injections


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
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.