Everything You Need to Know About Bruxism

Bruxism is the medical term used for occasional teeth grinding and clenching, even without chewing. This action is typical when people are asleep; however, it may also occur while awake. Most of the time, the person suffering from Bruxism is usually not aware that they're doing this.

While this rarely causes alarming harm, frequent grinding leads to tooth damage alongside other oral health complications.

With teeth grinding, a person grinds their teeth in a chewing manner, enabling the teeth to rub against one another. On the other hand, clenching occurs when someone holds and clenches their teeth together without motion. Such instances can happen to people both during the night or day.

In this article, we will list everything you need to know about Bruxism, including its signs, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment. Moreover, we will also explain the significant differences between Bruxism during waking hours and sleep. 

Sleep Bruxism: Signs & Symptoms 

Sleep bruxism is a disorder that occurs during sleep. Here are some symptoms you may recognize when you woke up:
  • Worm teeth
  • Jaw pain or stiffness
  • Loose or broken fillings
  • Popping, grinding, or clicking noises whenever you move the jaw
  • Loose, broken, or sensitive teeth
  • Facial pain
  • Dull headache

In some cases, people also feel ear pain because of the temporomandibular joint, which allows the jaw to open and close. They may also experience referred pain, which is the kind of pain you feel in an area aside from its source. 
People who have Bruxism rarely know they're already grinding their teeth. However, people sleeping nearby may be aware of the noise that comes from it. 

Awake Bruxism

When compared to Sleep Bruxism, Awake Bruxism is more of an involuntary habit than a disorder. Here, people tend to tense their jaw muscles or clench their teeth instead of teeth grinding. It also causes stiffness, jaw aches, and even dull aches. As long as there's no grinding occurs, this cannot damage the teeth in a similar manner. 

Furthermore, awake Bruxism also happens unconsciously, especially when people are suffering from stress or in the process of concentrating.

Causes of Bruxism

While Bruxism does not have one identifiable cause, various factors tend to be linked to it. Such factors differ depending on the kind of Bruxism that a particular person is experiencing. 

Primary Bruxism often occurs by itself and is not caused by any other condition. However, some factors that frequently lead to it are a misaligned bite, growing teeth, stress, and vices like caffeine, smoking, and alcohol. On the other hand, secondary Bruxism almost always happens because of an underlying circumstance or medical condition. This involves neurological conditions like Parkinson's disease, mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety, certain medications, and sleep apnea. 

When it happens for a long time, Bruxism may cause tooth fractures, gum bleeding or inflammation, tooth sensitivity, dental work damage, TMJ syndrome, and more. 

Diagnosis and Treatment 

Dentists can spot Bruxism through dental examinations. Here, they may look for signs of:
  • Flattened, chipped, or fractured teeth
  • Worn tooth enamel
  • Enlarged muscles of the jaw
  • Damaged or loose fillings and crowns

That said, there are a variety of strategies and treatments that can help ease Bruxism. Some of them are mouth splint or mouthguard and medications.

Mouth splint or mouth guard 

Your dentist may recommend this to protect your teeth from further damage.

Furthermore, they also help to even out jaw pressure while acting as a barrier between your teeth, thus reducing noise caused by teeth grinding.


Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs may also be recommended to reduce any swelling or pain caused by Bruxism. There may also be cases where your doctor recommends impermanent use of a specific medication to inhibit the cycle of your teeth grinding to allow your jaw muscles time to relax. This also helps lessen symptoms. 


Bruxism happens when a person unconsciously clenches or grinds their teeth, and can cause certain health risks when it persists for a long time. For this, you may consult your dentist for diagnosis so that they may help determine the appropriate steps that may help with Bruxism.