Top questions people ask about bruxism

Bruxism (Teeth grinding) is a common condition in dentistry so we thought would be useful to dedicate an entire article to bruxism

How is tooth grinding diagnosed?

Your dentist will be easily able to see if you grind your teeth. They will be looking at the back teeth and checking for wear patterns over the cusps (the pointed parts) of your teeth. These wear patterns will indicate how your jaw moves from side to side and backwards and forwards and will give the dentist an idea as to the extent of any teeth grinding problems.

Can teeth clenching cause my sore gums?.

Yes, grinding and or clenching your teeth can indeed cause sore gums. The forces can be transmitted down the outside surface of your teeth, this can lead to a complex form of enamel erosion. This can subsequently irritate gums and lead to sore gums.

Do I really need a night guard for bruxism?

Night guard are just one of the forms of bruxism treatment. This type of mouthguard helps to keep teeth apart at night, because the teeth are apart the muscles reset and relax, this means you wake up in the morning having not ground your teeth during the night. Because there has been minimal muscle activity at night not only will tooth wear be reduced but also the side effect of bruxism can be limited such as headaches and jaw joint pain.

How to get relief from jaw pain?

You need to see your dentist for treatment of bruxism if you have any of the following problems:

  • Headaches – bruxism can cause headaches because of excessive pressure on the muscles of the face and those which help in chewing.
  • Tooth Sensitivity – excessive teeth grinding can cause tooth wear. As a result, teeth become sensitive to hot or cold foods.

A night guard can then help with jaw joint pain once bruxism has been diagnosed.

How to cure myself from sleep bruxism?

The trick to treating yourself at home with sleep bruxism is to look at the cause.

  • Do everything you can to reduce stress or anxiety.
  • If you believe you have a sleep disorder consider visiting your doctor, MA mandibular advancement device may help with any sleep apnoea which may in turn help with any nighttime bruxism.
  • Look at your lifestyle, do you smoke or drink alcohol excessively?
  • Read any prescription drug information carefully to ensure there is no side-effect which may cause bruxism.
  • Practice relaxing your jaw with general muscle relaxation techniques.

You may however find that some form of dental treatment can help better than simply trying to cure bruxism at home.

What causes bruxism?

Bruxism can occur due to a variety of reasons:

  • Stress – this is one of the most common reasons for grinding teeth. Most people start to grind their teeth during exam season, when they are stressed out at work or when they are dealing with a personal crisis. This form of bruxism usually occurs during the daytime.
  • Improper Bite – when the upper and lower teeth do not mate properly, it can lead to excessive stress on the teeth. This situation can also result in the bruxism.
  • Sleep Disorders – sleep problems like obstructive sleep apnea, can also result in teeth grinding during sleep.
  • Medication – Bruxism can also be a side-effect of some medications. It has been particularly linked with a group of drugs known as the “selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI[1]s). The use of recreational drugs can also cause bruxism.
  • Lifestyle – excessive smoking and alcohol intake is also linked with bruxism.

Can asymmetric jaw muscles cause bruxism?

Theoretically yes. Bruxism occurs if there is excess muscle activity, this may be caused by stress or anxiety as well as problems with the muscles. Occlusion splints to prevent tooth grinding can certainly help in this area.

What are some treatments to cure bruxism?

Treatment of bruxism for children and adults involves the identification and correction of the underlying problem. In the meantime, your dentist will give you a mouthguard to protect your teeth from further damage because of grinding and clenching. In case the underlying problem is stress, you should change your lifestyle habits. Your dentist may also advise you to see a therapist for cognitive behavioral therapy[2]. Finally, if you are grinding your teeth because of an underlying sleep disorder, you should consult a medical professional who specializes in sleep therapy.

Bruxism can be easily managed and controlled. However, what most people don’t recognize is that failing to seek treatment for this condition can cause serious damages, like tooth erosion, headaches, and even temporomandibular joint disorders. Therefore, if you or your partner realize that you are grinding your teeth, you should seek treatment right away.

Can tooth damage from bruxism be repaired?

The good news is yes. It depends on the amount of damage that has been caused. The first thing to consider would be to have a mouth guard as this can help to prevent any tooth damage getting worse.

Dental veneers, crowns or composite fillings can then be used to repair any damaged tooth area. Sometimes this is on the surface of back teeth, it can however occur on the incisors age (tip) of front teeth or even on the outside surface of back teeth where the forces transmitted down the tooth.

What would cause someone to wake up with broken teeth?

Teeth grinding is the most likely cause of waking up with a broken tooth. You may not be aware that you grind your teeth at night so if you wake up with a broken tooth we strongly recommend you visit your dentist as soon as possible. They will be able to assess the way your teeth bite together and let you know if you are grinding your teeth at night.


[1] “SSRI Fact Sheet – Anxiety.org.” 13 Sep. 2016, https://www.anxiety.org/selective-serotonin-reuptake-inhibitor-ssri. Accessed 5 Nov. 2018.

[2] “In-Depth: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – Psych Central.” https://psychcentral.com/lib/in-depth-cognitive-behavioral-therapy/. Accessed 5 Nov. 2018.

Published by

Dr Donna Hill

After qualifying in 1992 in Birmingham, Donna moved to Cornwall then helped to set up Trinity Dental Centre in 2000, with the aim of providing kind and gentle dental care. Donna's interest is in the cosmetic field and she frequently updates her knowledge in this area. Outside of work she likes to read and to cook. She is married to Rodney and they have two sons.