Medicine

Bruxism

This post originally appeared on MedLine Plus.

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Overview

Bruxism is a condition where a person grinds, clenches, or gnashes his or her teeth; it can occur when awake or asleep. Bruxism that happens while a person is awake is more common, but bruxism that happens during sleep has been studied more. Children as well as adults can have this condition.

Many cases of bruxism are mild and may not require treatment; however, severe bruxism can lead to damaged teeth, jaw pain or tiredness, and headache. Since it is possible to grind your teeth in your sleep or be otherwise unaware that bruxism is occurring, it is important to know the signs and symptoms and receive regular dental care.

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Causes

Several factors appear to have a role in the development of the condition. They include:

  • Psychosocial factors: Stress, mood, distress, nervousness, and “feeling blue.”
  • A person’s genes.
  • Consuming alcohol or caffeine.
  • Smoking.
  • Medications: Certain medicines used to treat depression, seizures, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may increase the chances of having bruxism.

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Symptoms

See the chart below for a list of signs and symptoms.

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Diagnosis

See the chart below to learn how your dentist may diagnose bruxism.

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Treatment

Here are some possible treatments you may wish to discuss with your healthcare provider(s):

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Helpful Tips

  • Visit your dentist regularly. Regular dental exams will give your dentist an opportunity to spot the signs of bruxism.
  • Try relaxing activities like yoga or meditation. Counseling may also help with stress reduction.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Set reminders to yourself (such as written notes or a timer on your cell phone) to keep your teeth apart if you grind or clench during the day.

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Additional Resources

  • Bruxism
    Information from the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus on bruxism.
  • Taking on Teeth Grinding and Clenching
    An easy-to-read article on bruxism from the National Institutes of Health’s monthly newsletter News in Health.

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This post originally appeared on MedLine Plus.