woman sleeping

Bruxism Symptoms and Causes

Teeth clenching and grinding—known as bruxism—can cause headaches, jaw pain, and even broken teeth. You should know what bruxism is, common symptoms and signs, and how your dentist can treat bruxism.

If you notice an increase in headaches, tooth sensitivity, or chipped teeth, you may have bruxism. Bruxism is when you clench or grind your teeth, which can lead to several concerns. Stress, bite alignment, and some medications are only just a few of the known causes. Left untreated, it may lead to loose or broken teeth.

According to the NHS, people who have bruxism clench or grind their teeth during the day or at night when they sleep. Bruxism causes are varied, but you can watch out for these signs and symptoms and learn the causes to ensure it doesn't become a big problem!

Bruxism Symptoms

Bruxism and teeth grinding have many symptoms that are similar to those of other conditions. Since teeth clenching or grinding typically occurs during sleep, it may be challenging to know if you're doing it. These are common signs and symptoms of bruxism:

  • Increased tooth sensitivity due to diminished tooth enamel
  • Jaw soreness or tight muscles around your jaw
  • Flat, loose, or chipped teeth
  • Headache beginning at your temples

How Bruxism Impacts Your Oral Health

According to the University of Zagreb, when you grind or clench your teeth while sleeping, the clenching force can be much higher than regular chewing. When you're eating, the chewing motion is buffered by the food. But with sleep bruxism, your teeth receive the entire force. Bruxism can lead to:

  • Wearing away of the tooth enamel and possibly the dentine
  • Cracking or chipped teeth, bridgework, or implants
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Painful or loose teeth
  • Facial pain due to clenching of jaw muscles
  • Headaches

What Causes Bruxism?

There are many known causes of bruxism, including both physical and psychological reasons, such as:

  • Sleep issues
  • Negative emotions such as stress
  • Lifestyle choices such as tobacco, caffeine, and alcohol use
  • Some medications

Snoring, sleep-talking, and sleep disorders

According to The Bruxism Association, bruxism is more commonly found among people who also have issues with snoring, sleep talking, and other sleep disorders. You can speak to your healthcare professional about sleep issues for diagnosis.

Stress, Anger, and Anxiety Can Cause Bruxism

Anger, anxiety, frustration, and stress are four primary reasons a person may grind their teeth as a coping method. According to the NHS, if stress is the cause of your bruxism, reducing stress through therapy, yoga or breathing exercises may help.

Lifestyle Can Contribute to Bruxism in Adults

Tobacco use, alcohol consumption, and even caffeine can increase your risk of bruxism, especially if consumed before bed. This isn't always the case, though, as bruxism is also common in children.

Medications and Disorders Can Lead to Bruxism

Bruxism has also been linked to side effects from medications and antidepressants, as well as neurological conditions like Huntington's Disease and Parkinson's Disease. Consult your doctor in these cases.

Bruxism Prevention and Treatment

If you suspect you suffer from bruxism, keep track of symptoms, and talk to your dentist at your next appointment. Your dental hygienist is also trained to identify common signs and symptoms!

If bruxism has led to broken fillings, crowns, or worn down or fractured teeth, your dentist may need to restore your teeth with new fillings or crowns. To prevent further wear to your teeth, a mouthguard can act as a buffer against clenching or grinding and reduce any damage. Your dentist may also prescribe a dental procedure or orthodontic treatment to adjust your bite or correct tooth misalignment. Stress reduction methods are other options you can start right now.

Bruxism, like any other behaviour-based issue, is something that you can avoid as long as you are aware of the problem and look to these solutions to help ease your stress and pain.


Want more tips and offers sent directly to your inbox?

Sign up now

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.