Bruxism is a condition that people grind or clench their teeth.   People who grind or clench their teeth during the day and during their sleep regularly are likely to have dental problems, headaches, facial or jaw pain, and temporomandibular joint disorder.   Awake bruxism is teeth grinding or clenching during the day. Sleep bruxism is teeth grinding or clenching during sleep.  People who have sleep bruxism may have other sleep disorders, such as snoring and sleep apnea.

The exact cause of bruxism is unclear.  These are possible causes of bruxism:

  • Stress & anxiety
  • Abnormal bite, malocclusion (teeth do not meet properly when the jaw closes)
  • Missing or crooked teeth
  • Sleep disorders: snoring, sleep apnea

Signs & symptoms of bruxism may include:

  • Teeth grinding or clenching may be loud enough to wake up your sleep partner
  • Teeth that are flattened, fractured, chipped or loose
  • Worn tooth enamel, exposing deeper layers of your tooth
  • Increased tooth pain or sensitivity
  • Tired or tight jaw muscles, or a locked jaw that won’t open or close completely
  • Jaw, neck or face pain or soreness
  • Pain that feels like an earache
  • Dull headache starting in the temples
  • Sleep disruption
  • Wake up in the morning with jaw pain

Dangers of bruxism

  • Wear down tooth enamel, damage to dental fillings and crowns
  • Tension-type headaches
  • Facial or jaw pain
  • Temporomandibular joint disorder

Factors increase risk of bruxism

A study in the November 2016 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association suggests that teeth grinding is also associated with alcohol and tobacco use.  People who drink alcohol and use tobacco are twice likely to grind their teeth.

Stress, anxiety, anger,  and frustration

Personality type:  person who is aggressive, competitive or hyperactive can increase the risk of bruxism

Smoking tobacco, drinking caffeinated beverages or alcohol, or use of recreational drugs may increase the risk of bruxism.

Bruxism can be associated with some mental health and medical conditions: Parkinson’s disease, dementia, gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), epilepsy, sleep apnea and attention deficit disorder.

Treatment for bruxism

  • Recommend a sleep study to rule out an airway issue
  • Mouth guard fitted by the dentist.  Mouth guard is worn to protect the teeth
  • Dietary changes
  • life style changes


  • Stress and anxiety management may help reduce or prevent bruxism
  • Good sleep hygiene: cool dark, quiet room to sleep in
  • Avoid foods and drinks that contain high concentration of caffeine or alcohol

Bruxism can create serious problems for oral health. If you notice that you grind or clench your teeth during the day or you wake up in the morning with jaw pain, call for a consultation with Dr. Anna Lee
She can help you, diagnose the problem and provide treatment options. Dr. Anna Lee is a general & cosmetic dentist in Glendora, CA.  Call our office at 626-335-5114 for a dental checkup or visit us at

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