What is Bruxism?

Bruxism refers to the involuntary, habitual action of grinding the teeth, or clenching the jaw.

it can also describe tongue tension, or pushing the tongue hard against the teeth. 

Common signs of Bruxism

  • Grinding the teeth, often loud enough for others to hear
  • Uneven or excessive tooth wear
  • Increased tooth sensitivity
  • Jaw or face pain
  • Tired or tight jaw muscles
  • Ear ache
  • Dull headache in the temples
  • Damage to the inside of the cheeks
  • Lip biting

What causes bruxism?

Bruxism or bruxing, can occur while awake or asleep, and can be defined as mild, moderate or severe.

Whilst the cause of bruxism is not well understood, daily stress may be the trigger for most sufferers.

Bruxism can also be caused by an abnormal bite. When the top and bottom teeth do not come together in alignment, an occlusal discrepancy occurs. Having missing or crooked teeth can also result in grinding or bruxing.

Bruxism can also be the result of taking certain medications. These include some psychotropic drugs, antidepressants and antipsychotics.

  • Mild bruxism – occurs intermittently, with no damage to the teeth
  • Moderate bruxism – occurs every night, resulting in mild damage to the teeth
  • Severe bruxism – occurs every night, resulting in damaged teeth and temporomandibular disorders

How is bruxism diagnosed?

Bruxism can be difficult to diagnose by assessment of the teeth alone. While obvious teeth wear is easy to detect, bruxism is not the only cause of tooth wear. Excessive brushing, abrasives in toothpaste, acidic soft drinks and some foods can also contribute to tooth degradation. Examination by an experienced dental practitioner can detect the very specific patterns of wear caused by bruxism and confirm a diagnosis.

How is bruxism treated?

In some cases, treatment of bruxism involves only an awareness of jaw clenching and grinding behaviours. In more severe cases treatment may involve:

Oral devices. Splints and mouth guards designed to keep teeth apart and avoid tooth damage can be effective in relieving the symptoms of bruxing.

Dental correction. Correcting the alignment of the teeth and/or revising the chewing surfaces of the teeth may assist in the management of bruxism. In certain cases, braces or oral surgery may also be recommended.

Stress management. If bruxism is the result of stress, professional counseling or strategies that promote relaxation, may assist in the management of teeth grinding and clenching.

Behavioural therapy. An awareness of bruxism can lead to behavioural change. Practicing proper mouth and jaw position can resolve mild cases of bruxism.

OnabotulinumtoxinA (Botox) injections. Botox injections may help some people with severe bruxism who don’t respond to other treatments.

What should I do if I am concerned about bruxism?

For a comprehensive assessment of your bruxism and the treatment options available, book an assessment with us today.