Dental Clinic Herzliya

Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)

Teeth Grinding (Bruxism): Causes And Treatments

Bruxism is the excessive grinding of the teeth along with clenching or gnashing. This will occur during sleep when the body is involuntarily moving. This disorder is not associated with grinding teeth when simply eating or talking. 

Bruxism is an extremely common condition. People who do this are often called “bruxers” and most do not realise they have this disorder. Around half the adult population of the USA are teeth grinders. Luckily only 20% are “bruxers” but they are destroying their tooth enamel due to their excessive teeth grinding.

Adults over the age of twenty-five grind teeth much more than children do. Children’s teeth and jaw bones grow more quickly, therefore it generally does not cause any damage to the teeth. If children do develop the habit, they will most likely outgrow it, avoiding damage.

mouthguard can be used to help those with Bruxism.

What Are The Different Kinds of Teeth Grinding?

There are 2 kinds of teeth grinding:

  • Sleep Bruxism/ nocturnal bruxism: The most common form of bruxism is the grinding of teeth during sleep.
  • Awake Bruxism: The grinding of teeth during daytime, more often caused by stress, tension, anxiety or anger.

What Causes Teeth Grinding?

Dentists are unsure as to the causes of teeth grinding. The grinding of teeth could be associated with mental and physical stress, earaches, respiratory infections or allergies. A few medications have been linked with teeth clenching.

Whilst some people may be more susceptible to developing the disorder, some factors will increase the risk of actually having it. They include:

  • Anxiety or stress – both of these could cause increased tooth grinding during awake hours.
  • Medications – Antidepressants can cause bruxism.
  • Excessive Alcohol Consumption – People who drink a lot have a 50% greater risk of developing the disorder.
  • Smoking – A smoker is 50% more likely to be Bruxers because nicotine in cigarettes releases dopamine.
  • Caffeinated beverages – People who drink high amounts of caffeine will find their heart rate increases which then releases dopamine.
  • Drugs – Amphetamines and hard drugs i.e. cocaine and ecstasy will cause severe bruxism whilst awake and asleep. The drugs also can damage the tooth’s enamel and structure, causing cavities and rotten teeth.
  • Genetics – Grinding teeth during sleep can be a generational disorder.
  • Disorders – Parkinson’s, dementia, ADHD and obstructive sleep apnea are all associated with bruxism. 
  • Age – Natural aging can be a factor of developing bruxism. 

Symptoms of Teeth Grinding

  • Jaw clenching and teeth grinding
  • Headaches around the temples
  • Sore and tired jaw muscles
  • Earaches
  • Soreness around the neck/face
  • Lockjaw, inability to open jaw or completely close it
  • Clicking sounds when chewing
  • Tooth enamel erosion
  • Flattened teeth
  • Cavity damage to fillings
  • Chipped, loose and fractured teeth
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Chewed cheeks
  • Indentations on the tongue

Are There Any Risks If Bruxism Goes Untreated?

If left untreated bruxism may lead to many dental issues. They may include:

  • Disorders of the jaw
  • Severe headaches or temple pain
  • Tooth enamel damage including crowns and restorations
  • Cracked and chipped teeth
  • Shortening of the teeth
  • Tooth loss

What Treatment Options Are There For Bruxism?

There are several possible options to treat teeth grinding. These include:

Splints Or Mouth Guards

Referred to as occlusal appliances. These will help to position teeth and align the jaw, mostly whilst sleeping. They are designed with hard acrylic so they will not misshape. 

These occlusal appliances are custom made. They will help protect the teeth when you are grinding or clenching, they will also relieve any discomfort from jaw pain. 

Dental Corrections

Visiting your dentist every six months can help prevent further damage occurring beyond that already caused by the disorder. Cracked or missing teeth are often a symptom, and the dentist can then begin a restorative treatment plan for you. Crowns or possibly dentures could be an option.


Medication can be an effective treatment for the disorder. They include:

  • Muscle relaxants
  • Botox injections
  • Sleep medicine
  • Antidepressants
  • Anti anxiety medicines

Stress Management Treatments

Once diagnosed with Bruxism your dentist may recommend some or all of the following:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapies
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Stress management therapies
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Biofeedback treatment

Treating Conditions Associated With Bruxism

If your tooth grinding is linked to a sleep disorder, including sleep apnea, then your dentist will more than likely want to have that treated first. 

This also includes any other medical conditions, for example gastroesophageal reflux (also known as GERD).


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