Ever heard of the term Bruxism?

You may have not.

Know about grinding and clenching teeth?

Undoubtedly, you do.

That’s what Bruxism is.

Bruxism is the medical term for regular clenching and grinding of teeth.

When a person clenches and grinds teeth when he is awake, it is called ‘bruxism’ and when he does the same thing while sleeping, this time unknowingly, it is known as ‘sleep bruxism’.

While occasional clenching of jaws and teeth grinding is not something to worry about, it can cause harm to your teeth and can lead to various oral health issues if it occurs regularly. Sleep bruxism is the more dangerous type because it happens subconsciously during sleep.

The statistics about the occurrence of bruxism are startling. According to research, around 30 to 40 million people (including both children and adults) are affected by bruxism in the United States alone.

Isn’t it unbelievable that we don’t often hear about this problem in spite of its huge prevalence? Well, there’s a reason for that too! Another study tells that about 80% of these cases fall under the category of sleep bruxism.

Causes of Bruxism

Bruxism is a problem that is often a result of one or more of the following factors:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
  • Taking antidepressant or antipsychotic medications
  • Unhealthy habits, such as smoking, regular consumption of alcohol and drugs.

Around 70% of sleep bruxism cases are found to be related with anxiety and stress.

How to Know If You Suffer From Sleep Bruxism?

Presence of one or more of the following conditions is found to be a result of jaw clenching and teeth grinding during the sleep. Talk to you dentist, if you notice any of these, to confirm it.

  • A dull, but constant headache
  • Sore jaw after waking up
  • Tight and/or painful jaw muscles
  • Pain in face, teeth or gums
  • Earaches (it feels like earache but there is no problem with the ear)
  • Broken, flattened, loose or chipped teeth for no other apparent reason
  • Increased sensitivity
  • Damaged tooth enamel
  • Chewing the insides of your cheeks

Consequences of Teeth Grinding

Regular and/or chronic teeth grinding could damage your teeth resulting in the loosening, breakage or even loss of teeth. Also, it can cause TMD (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder), which is problem with the muscles that connect jaw to the temporal bones, jaw damage and in the worst case, could even affect the appearance of one’s face.


Unless you discover sleep bruxism too late and your teeth and jaw are already damaged, in which case you may need root canals, crowns, bridges, implants or dentures (depending on the severity of the damage), your dentist is likely to prescribe you with a mouth guard (also known as night guard, bruxism appliances and bite guards). Night guards are custom made plastic covers that are worn at bedtime. They fit over your teeth and protect them.

However, it is also important to discover the underlying cause of bruxism and treating it. Talk to your dentist and let him/her evaluate the real cause so that a comprehensive treatment plan could be devised for you.

Always go to an AAID accredited dentist to ensure that you get the best consultation and treatment. Dentists at Caldwell, Bills, Petrilli & West Dentistry are not only AAID certified, but also experienced and provide personalized services for each family member.