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Bruxism (Teeth grinding)

You undoubtedly clench or grind your teeth occasionally. It's likely safe to assume that occasionally grinding your teeth won't be harmful.

But if you grind your teeth frequently, you can suffer from a disease known as bruxism. It may harm you if:

  • Jaw muscles
  • Teeth 
  • Your skull and jawbone are connected by temporomandibular joints (TMJs), which enable you to open and close your mouth.

Why do people do this?

Although anxiety and stress can cause teeth grinding, it usually takes place when you sleep and is more frequently caused by a bad bite, missing teeth, or misaligned teeth. Possible causes of this condition are sleep apnea and other sleep disorders.

Why is it harmful?

Teeth can occasionally crack, become loose, or even fall out as a result of persistent tooth grinding. Eventually, teeth that have been constantly crushed may turn into stumps. Bridges, crowns, root canals, implants, partial dentures, and even full dentures may be required when this happens.

Not only may excessive grinding wear down your teeth and cause tooth loss, but it can also impact your jaws, increase TMD/TMJ, and even alter the way your face looks.


You can grind your teeth while you're awake or even while you're fast asleep. Even though the grinding motion is similar, awake and sleep bruxism are regarded as two distinct conditions:

  • Awake bruxism - With this disease, you clench your jaw and grind your teeth throughout the day. Usually, it's connected to emotional problems. Teeth grinding can result from anxiety, tension, or anger. But focusing on something can also help. If you're more likely to recognise it and stop, awake bruxism frequently doesn't require treatment. Learning how to become more conscious can also help minimize the frequency, as does practicing stress management.
  • Sleep bruxism - With this version, you clench your teeth when you're asleep, which could be more harmful. Since you are not aware of it, you might not receive the assistance you require. The fact that people don't notice how hard they're clenching their jaw and teeth during sleep presents another problem with bruxism. With up to 250 pounds of force, they can damage teeth and cause jaw pain. Headaches can also result from clenching.


  • Teeth clenching or grinding loud enough to wake your sleeping mate
  • Loose teeth, chipped, cracked, or flattened
  • Worn-down dental enamel that exposes your tooth's lower layers
  • Increased sensitivity or pain in the teeth
  • Worn-out or tense jaw muscles, or a locked jaw that won't fully open or close
  • Pain or soreness in the jaw, neck, or face
  • Despite not being an ear issue, there is pain that feels like an earache.
  • Dull headache with temple pain
  • The inside of your cheek could become damaged if you chew on it.
  • Interruption of sleep


Bruxism has a variety of reasons, such as:

Lifestyle choices include consuming alcohol, smoking, using drugs for recreational purposes, and taking a lot of caffeine daily (more than six cups of coffee a day). The likelihood of grinding one's teeth is twice as high for those who smoke and consume alcohol.

  • Sleep disorders
  • Anxiety and stress 
  • Taking specific medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, a group of anti-anxiety medications (SSRIs)


Visit your dentist if you suspect that you may be brushing your teeth. They can check for bruxism symptoms by looking at your TMJs, jaw muscles, and teeth.

Medical professionals can frequently identify bruxism based on your symptoms, the physical exam, and other factors. However, in specific circumstances, you could require a polysomnography sleep study. This test, which is performed in a sleep lab, can offer a conclusive diagnosis.

Do Children Also Grind Their Teeth?

Yes, teeth grinding affects both adults and children. 15% to 33% of kids clench their teeth. When baby teeth erupt and when permanent teeth erupt, teeth grinding is most prevalent in children. After these two sets of teeth have grown more fully, the majority of kids stop grinding their teeth.

Children grind their teeth more frequently at night than during the day. Although the exact cause of children's teeth grinding is unknown, possible explanations include misaligned teeth or irregular upper-lower tooth contact, illnesses and other medical conditions (such as nutritional deficiencies, pinworm, allergies, and endocrine disorders), as well as psychological factors like stress and anxiety.

Rarely do baby teeth grinding cause issues. However, teeth grinding can result in TMD, migraines, tooth wear, and jaw pain. If your child complains of tooth sensitivity or pain, or if their teeth appear worn, you should take them to the dentist.


Bruxism, often known as "teeth grinding," is when you clench and grind your teeth. Either you are awake or asleep when it occurs. Since you aren't aware that you are doing it, sleep bruxism might lead to greater complications. Leaving teeth grinding untreated can result in issues with your teeth, jaw muscles, and jaw joints. Consult a medical professional if you get headaches or jaw soreness in the morning. They can determine the best course of action for you, which may entail wearing a night guard while you sleep. Reducing stress might also help stop teeth grinding.


Dr. Tanay Joshi
Respiratory & Sleep Medicine
Meet The Doctor
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