What is Bruxism? Causes, Symptoms and Treatments Update 05/2024

Bruxism is the term used to describe the habitual clenching and grinding of the teeth. When a person has sleep bruxism, they grind their teeth while they are still asleep. Bruxism during sleep is most common in children, teenagers, and young adults, but it can affect anyone.

While asleep, people can exert up to 250 pounds of strain on their teeth, which can wear down the teeth, produce pain in the jaw and neck, and lead to long-term issues with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).

Treating teeth grinding can help lessen its frequency, reduce its impact and alleviate symptoms. In addition, there are some helpful hints for dealing with snoring bruxism at home.

What is Bruxism?

When you unintentionally clench or grind your teeth when awake or asleep, this is known as bruxism. Tooth grinding has been linked to a 40% increase in fractured teeth, according to dental experts.
Are you gritting your teeth during your sleep?

Sleep and awake bruxism are the two kinds of bruxism Anxiety, stress, and sleep apnoea can all contribute to sleep bruxism, which is the habitual grinding of teeth while you’re asleep.

Stress or worry, such as the pressure of a project deadline, can cause daytime teeth grinding, even if you aren’t aware of it. Do you know if you’re grinding your teeth without a mirror?

Teeth Grinding Symptoms

The most prevalent signs of teeth grinding are headaches and discomfort in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), according to the Bruxism Association. Headaches are three times more common in those who grind their teeth, according to the Bruxism Association.

Some of these symptoms are commonly accompanied by numerous dental indicators, including abnormal tooth wear and cracked teeth as well as gum recession.

  • As a result, the teeth become more sensitive.
  • Pain or tightness in the muscles of the jaw.
  • Teeth that are chipped or loose.
  • Your temples begin to throb with pain.

It is not uncommon for the symptoms of bruxism and tooth grinding to resemble those of other diseases. Also, because teeth clenching or grinding is most common at night, it might be difficult to detect. Make sure to keep in touch with your dentist if you notice any of these symptoms.

How Bruxism Impacts Your Oral Health

Clenching force can be substantially higher when you grind or clench your teeth as you sleep, according to a recent study in The Journal of Conservative Dentistry. The food you’re chewing absorbs some of the force of your chewing motion. With sleep bruxism, the full force is on your teeth. Bruxism may lead to:

  • Tooth sensitivity can be caused by a loss of enamel and dentin.
    teeth, bridges, or implants that have been chipped, cracked or broken.
  • Tooth sensitivity..
  • Teeth that hurt or are loose.
  • The clenching of the jaw muscles causes facial pain.
  • Headaches.

Teeth Grinding Causes

There are numerous reasons why you may be grinding your teeth. There are a number of plausible causes, such as:

Snoring, Sleep-Talking, and Sleep Apnea

Bruxism can be exacerbated by snoring, sleep talking, or even sleep apnea. Breathing is affected by sleep apnea. Diagnosis and therapy can be obtained by consulting with a medical professional.

Stress, Anger, and Anxiety Can Cause Bruxism

Stress, worry, and anger are the most common triggers for teeth grinding as a coping mechanism. American Dental Association says that bruxism is most commonly caused by stress (ADA). Stress-relieving chemicals are released into the body when you exercise. These include listening to music and going on walks as well as soaking in the tub for a few minutes.

Lifestyle Can Contribute to Bruxism in Adults

Bruxism can be exacerbated if you use tobacco or drink alcohol, especially if you do so right before going to bed. While adults are more likely to suffer from bruxism than children, it’s not always the case.

Medications and Disorders Can Lead to Bruxism

Medications and antidepressants, as well as neurological diseases including Huntington’s and Parkinson’s, have all been related to bruxism. When in doubt, see a doctor.

Bruxism is more common in those who snore or have obstructive sleep apnea, but there isn’t enough information to say why.

When Should You See a Doctor About Sleep Bruxism?

If you’re experiencing discomfort in your mouth, jaw, or neck as a result of teeth grinding, make an appointment with your dentist or doctor right once. To avoid more serious difficulties down the road, it is important to seek the advice of a medical practitioner.

It’s possible that your teeth grinding is associated with another health issue, such as sleep apnea or gastroesophageal reflux disease, which can be detected and treated by a doctor or dentist..

Treatments for Sleep Bruxism

It is possible to treat sleep bruxism with a variety of approaches, including medication, behavioral therapy, and behavioral modification.

It’s crucial to contact with your dentist or doctor about the best treatment for your unique case before implementing any at-home remedies for teeth grinding.
Teeth Grinding - Boston, MA - Dr. James M. Stein

Managing Pain and Other Symptoms

Stress on the jaw and neck muscles might result from teeth clenching or grinding at night. Treatment for sleep bruxism may benefit from reducing this discomfort.

Home Care Tips for Coping With Sleep Bruxism

There are a few things you may do at home to avoid or alleviate the discomfort that comes with teeth grinding when you’re trying to sleep:

  • You should steer clear of hard-to-digest items like nuts, popcorn, and hard candy.
  • Peanut butter and other foods that are difficult to chew, such as gooey pudding, should be avoided.
  • Keep your mouth shut.
  • To get better neck and head support, you may want to reposition your pillow or change your sleeping posture.
  • When you’re in pain, you may benefit from a hot or ice pack.

Mouth Exercises To Cope With Sleep Bruxism

There are a number of mouth exercises that can help alleviate jaw pain and increase jaw range of motion.

The following steps have been found to be effective in relieving the muscles that cause teeth grinding:

  • In the first step, softly close your lips so that your upper and lower teeth do not make direct contact with each other
  • Step 2: Do not touch your teeth with your tongue when you press it against the roof of your mouth.
  • Finally, hold this position indefinitely.

Another exercise aimed towards improving jaw mobility is this:

  • As a first step, gently massage your TMJ joints (where the lower jaw connects)
  • Open your mouth a little at a time.
  • Step 3: Hold your mouth open for 5 to 10 seconds at a time.
  • In the fourth and last step, slowly shut your mouth.
  • Do this three times a day for a total of three 10-minute workouts.

The muscles used in teeth grinding and clenching may be soothed and stretched by performing these exercises for a few minutes many times a day.

Consult with your dentist or doctor to come up with a personalized fitness plan. A visit to a physical therapist can give you the chance to design a mouth workout plan firsthand. This can help you avoid injury and maximize muscle relaxation by ensuring that you perform the exercises correctly.


Head and neck massages can help alleviate discomfort and muscle stress caused by teeth grinding. There are several ways to relax the jaw and the muscles surrounding it, and a massage therapist or physical therapist can show you how to do so.

Medical and Dental Treatments for Sleep Bruxism

In the event of regular morning headaches and jaw pain as well as unrefreshing sleep or the possibility of long-term damage to teeth as a result of excessive nighttime teeth grinding, many treatment methods may be considered.


Dental splints or night guards, often known as mouthguards, are worn at night to prevent teeth grinding. It is possible to decrease tooth damage from grinding by using these mouthpieces, which maintain the jaw in a precise position and offer a barrier. Mouthguards that leave the jaw slightly open allow the masseter muscles (the muscles that chew) to rest comfortably during the night. Mouth guards can cover all of a patient’s teeth, or simply a portion of them, depending on the situation.

In addition to snoring and mild obstructive sleep apnea, a mandibular advancement device (MAD) can be used to alleviate these symptoms. The lower jaw is pushed forward by a MAD, which is held in place by the teeth. This helps to keep the airway open and can even lessen the severity of teeth grinding. When sleep apnea and bruxism are present, this is commonly employed.

Several types of mouthpieces, including mouthguards and MADs, are available over-the-counter and can be customized to fit your teeth, but most patients choose for dentally-made custom mouthpieces.

Despite the fact that mouthguards cannot cure sleep bruxism, they can lessen its effects, lessen tooth wear and tear, lessen morning headaches, and enhance sleep quality.

Stress Reduction

Relaxation techniques are a natural way to deal with stress, which is a common cause of teeth grinding. Relaxation techniques can play a large role in sleep hygiene, and better sleep can help people better handle stress.


If a patient’s condition is so severe that traditional treatment has failed, medication may be recommended by a doctor. While some bruxism medications have been shown to be beneficial, they always carry the risk of side effects. Botox injections, as well as other drugs, may be used to treat severe teeth grinding. The face muscles are slowed down as a result of these drugs’ action. Before beginning any bruxism treatment, talk to your doctor about the possible dangers and benefits.

Tips for Bed Partners of People Who Grind Their Teeth

The sound of teeth grinding can keep people awake at night, making it difficult for them to obtain a good night’s rest. Taking a few simple precautions will help you get a good night’s sleep:

  • Recommending medical or dental care for their companion.
  • It is possible to block out the noise of teeth grinding by wearing ear plugs or headphones.
  • A fan or white noise machine can be used to mask the sound of teeth grinding.

New York Dentists Share Effective Ways To Reduce The Frequency Of Teeth Grinding

Non-conscious grinding of teeth is known as bruxism in medicine. Typically, this occurs while a person is resting at night. Children, teens, and young adults are the most susceptible to developing bruxism, but it can affect anyone.

While most people don’t even aware they are doing it, grinding your teeth at night can exert up to 250 pounds of stress on your jaw! They will eventually begin to experience tooth sensitivity and discomfort as a result of this high strain. Long-term difficulties with the temporomandibular joint and pain in the jaw and neck are other prevalent symptoms (TMJ).

Bruxism cannot be cured, however therapy at your Washington Heights dental office can lessen the frequency and intensity of teeth grinding and alleviate symptoms.

When Should You See a Doctor About Sleep Bruxism?

Talk to a doctor or dentist if you’re suffering pain in your mouth, jaw, or neck, and suspect that you’re grinding your teeth while you sleep. Before the disease worsens, treatment and home management strategies might be offered to assist prevent teeth grinding.

Grinding & Clenching - Complete Dental Wynnum

What Treatments Are Available For Teeth Grinding?

When it comes to treating bruxism, there are many options. One option that your Washington Heights, New York, dentist may suggest is a nighttime oral appliance that keeps your upper and lower teeth from touching. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, you may also get pain medication and be counseled to seek physical therapy for any TMJ-related problems.

Home Care Tips To Relieve Clenching Teeth Symptoms

The following home remedies may help alleviate symptoms, minimize discomfort, and lessen the severity of teeth grinding….

  • Hard foods, such as nuts, popcorn, and hard candies, should be avoided because they put pressure on your jaw and teeth.
  • Keep a close eye on sticky foods like caramels, peanut butter, and jelly.
  • Chewing gum can put undue stress on your jaw joint and surrounding muscles.
  • New pillows can help alleviate neck and head pain, so give them a try.
  • When you’re in pain, you may benefit from a hot or ice pack.
  • Ask your doctor or dentist in Washington Heights for a referral to a physical therapist for physical therapy.
  • People who grind their teeth should learn how to relax and stretch the muscles associated with this habit.
  • You’ll be able to perform the exercises correctly and get a customized treatment plan if you work one-on-one with a specialist.
  • Many patients find relief with massages of the head, neck, and upper body, which help to alleviate stress and pain.

Bruxism Medical & Dental Treatments

Even if you have bruxism and wake up frequently with headaches and jaw pain, your sleep is unrefreshing, or you have tooth damage as a result of grinding your teeth at night, you may benefit from treatment.


Wearing a mouthguard at night prevents teeth from grinding. To prevent tooth damage, they either hold the jaw in place or create a barrier that prevents it from happening in the first place. When worn during sleep, mouthguards can position the jaw slightly open, allowing the chewing muscles to unwind. Ask your dentist in Washington Heights if they can recommend a style that’s right for you. A wide variety of over-the-counter mouthguards can be adjusted to match your particular mouth size, but many people prefer the more personalized appearance of a mouthguard made specifically for them by their dentist. When it comes to treating bruxism, mouthguards aren’t a solution, but they do lessen the damage to your teeth and enhance your quality of sleep.

Reduce Stress To Help You Get Better Sleep

Many people find relief from tooth grinding by reducing their stress levels and practicing relaxation techniques. Many persons with bruxism have difficulty sleeping and may benefit from stress-reduction measures that help them obtain a better night’s sleep.

Measures To Take Into Account For Bruxism Medication

Medications may be a possibility in more severe cases that have not responded well to other forms of treatment. All of them, however, have undesirable side effects and are not certain to be successful. The most common treatment for bruxism is Botox injections, which may reduce muscular activity in the face and jaw. You should talk to your doctor about the possible side effects and advantages of any medicine before you begin therapy.

Visit a Professional Dental Care Office In Washington Heights

You may have a beautiful, healthy smile with the help of Esthetix Dental Spa’s comprehensive selection of cosmetic and cleaning services! At our conveniently located dental office in Washington Heights, you’ll find a team of highly regarded dentists dedicated to your comfort, convenience, and well-being. Contact our office right away to set up an appointment and begin your journey to a brighter smile.

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