Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)

Written by the Healthline Editorial Team | Published on November 24, 2014
Medically Reviewed by George Krucik, MD, MBA on November 24, 2014

Bruxism Overview

Bruxism is the medical term for clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth. It’s a very common condition and many people grind their teeth without realizing it, especially during the nighttime.

Causes of Bruxism

While there’s no single cause of bruxism, daily stress is thought to be one of the primary and most common reasons. Other causes can include:

  • misaligned teeth
  • stress or anxiety
  • sleeping habits
  • inability to relax
  • depression
  • posture
  • diet

Symptoms of Bruxism

Grinding your teeth can wear them down and cause dental problems. Clenching your jaw can put strain on the muscles and tissues around your jaw.

Other symptoms of bruxism include:

  • pain in the jaw
  • earache
  • eating disorders
  • headache
  • insomnia

If you grind your teeth, you should see a dentist. Long-term grinding can lead to more serious dental problems. Your dentist will perform a physical examination to rule out other causes of bruxism. These conditions include:

  • ear disorders
  • problems with the joint in the jaw (temporomandibular joint disorder)
  • dental complications

Treatments for Bruxism

Bruxism is not a serious disorder, but if left untreated it can lead to larger problems. Your doctor can prescribe medication to alleviate the pain or recommend over-the-counter pain relievers. You can also use heat or ice or massage sore muscles in the area where it hurts. Treatment options to stop bruxism include:

  • mouth guards
  • splints
  • orthodontic adjustment
  • lifestyle changes
  • relaxation techniques
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