Bruxism – Symptoms, Causes and Risk Factors


This is a condition when you clench, grind or gnash your teeth. When you have bruxism you are unconsciously clenching your teeth together during the day or you can clench them during the night (this condition is known as sleep bruxism). This type of bruxism is disorder which is connected with sleep disorders. People who are suffering from sleep bruxism in the most cases are suffering from other sleep disorders such as sleeping apnea (which means pauses in breathing) and snoring [1]. If you have mild bruxism, then this grade of bruxism can be healed without medical treatment. But there are many cases in which this disorder is making bigger problems in patients, who are suffering from bruxism such as damaged teeth, jaw disorders, headaches and other health problems. Maybe, you are suffering from sleep bruxism and you are in a situation in which you do not know that you have sleep bruxism. This is a reason why you should often go to your dentist and to have regular dental care.

Signs and symptoms of bruxism

Here are some signs and symptoms of this disorder:

  • Pain that feels like an earache (this is not a problem with your ears)
  • You are feeling increased tooth sensitivity
  • You are having indentations on your tongue
  • Teeth clenching or grinding, which may be loud enough to awaken your sleep partner
  • Face pain, jaw pain and face soreness
  • Teeth that are chipped, loose, fractured and flattened
  • Damage from chewing on the inside of your cheek
  • Worn tooth enamel exposing deeper layer of your tooth
  • Tight or tired jaw muscles
  • Dull headache originating in the temples

bruxismWhen to see a doctor? If you are feeling some of the mentioned signs and symptoms, then you should see your doctor. If you have children and you see that your child is grinding his or her teeth, then you should visit your dentist (or if the child has its own dentist, then visit him or her). Talk with him or her about your problem or the problem with your children. You should be prepared for your visit. On one paper you can write about your symptoms. Tell your doctor if you have been suffering from bruxism in the past. If you have taken some medications about your problem, then you should tell this to your doctor. Also you should tell your doctor if you had some diseases or disorders in the past. You should not feel shame to ask any kind of question. Your doctor can ask you some of the next questions:

  • When have started your symptoms?
  • How long are you feeling your symptoms?
  • Are you feeling these symptoms during the day or during the night?
  • Have you taken some medications for your condition?
  • If your answer is yes, then have they improved or worsen your condition?

Causes of bruxism

The right reason for this disorder is not known. There are many physical and psychological causes which can be a reason for this disorder such as

  • A focusing habit or coping strategy
  • Stomach acid reflux into the esophagus
  • Sleep problems such as sleep apnea
  • Emotions such as tension, stress, anxiety, anger and frustration
  • Abnormal alignment of upper and lower teeth (which is known as malocclusion)
  • Hyperactive, competitive or aggressive personality type
  • Response to pain from teething (in children) or an earache
  • Complication resulting from a disorder such as Parkinson’s disease or Huntington’s disease [2]
  • An uncommon side effect of some medications which are used for people who have psychiatric problems such as phenothiazines or certain antidepressants [3]

Risk factors: Here are the risk factors which are increasing the risk of having this disorder:

  • Age: When children are in their earliest years, then they are having increased chances to have bruxism. But in most cases this disorder is going away after they have completed 10 years.
  • Stress: If you have increased anger, stress, frustration and anxiety, then you are having increased chances to get bruxism because these situations are leading to teeth grinding. [4]
  • Stimulating substances: People who are smoking tobacco, who are drinking caffeinated beverages or who are drinking alcohol are having increased chances of getting bruxism. Also people who are taking illegal drugs such as Ecstasy and methamphetamine are risking getting this problem. [5]
  • Personality type: People who are competitive, hyperactive or aggressive are having increased chances of getting bruxism.


[1] Suni E. The link between sleep apnea and teeth grinding. Sleep Foundation. 2020. Retrieved from

[2] Verhoeff MC, Lobbezoo F, Wetselaar P, et al. Parkinson’s disease, temporomandibular disorders and bruxism: A pilot study. Journal of Oral Rehabilitation. 2018;45(11):854-63.

[3] Reyad AA, Girgis E, Ayoub A, et al. Bruxism and psychotropic medications. Progress in Neurology and Psychiatry. 2020;24(1):31-5.

[4] Smardz J, Martynowicz H, Wojakowska A, et al. Correlation between sleep bruxism, stress, and depression—A polysomnographic study. Journal of Clinical Medicine. 2019;8(9):1344.

[5] Rintakoski K, Ahlberg J, Hublin C, et al. Tobacco use and reported bruxism in young adults: A nationwide Finnish Twin Cohort Study. Nicotine and Tobacco Research. 2010;12(6):679–83.


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