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Related to bruxism: Sleep bruxism




Bruxism is the habit of clenching and grinding the teeth. It most often occurs at night during sleep, but it may also occur during the day. It is an unconscious behavior, perhaps performed to release anxiety, aggression, or anger.


Bruxism is one of the oldest disorders known, and approximately one in four adults experiences it. Most people are not aware of it before their teeth have been damaged.

Causes and symptoms

While bruxism is typically associated with stress, it may also be triggered by abnormal occlusion (the way the upper and lower teeth fit together), or crooked or missing teeth.
Symptoms of bruxism include: dull headaches; sore and tired facial muscles; earaches; sensitive teeth; and locking, popping, and clicking of the jaw.
During a dental examination, a dentist may recognize damage resulting from bruxism, including: enamel loss from the chewing surfaces of teeth; flattened tooth surfaces; loosened teeth; and fractured teeth and fillings. Left untreated, bruxism may lead to tooth loss and jaw dysfunction.


Medical and dental histories and examinations are necessary to differentiate bruxism from other conditions that may cause similar pain, such as ear infections, dental infections, and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction. However, uncommonly worn-down teeth strongly suggest a diagnosis of bruxism.


To prevent further damage to the teeth, bruxism is treated by placing a removable, custom-fitted plastic appliance called a night guard between the upper and lower teeth. Although the clenching and grinding behavior may continue, the teeth wear away the plastic instead of each other.
In some cases, abnormal occlusion may be adjusted and high spots removed so that the teeth fit together in a more comfortable position. Missing teeth may be replaced and crooked teeth may be straightened with orthodontic treatment to eliminate possible underlying causes of bruxism. In cases where jaw muscles are very tight, a dentist may prescribe muscle relaxants.

Key terms

Enamel — The hard outermost surface of a tooth.
High spot — An area of a tooth or restoration that feels abnormal or uncomfortable because it hits its opposing tooth before other teeth meet.
Night guard — A removable, custom-fitted plastic appliance that fits between the upper and lower teeth to prevent them from grinding against each other.
Occlusion — The way upper and lower teeth fit together during biting and chewing.
Rolfing — Based on the belief that proper alignment of various parts of the body is necessary for physical and mental health, rolfing uses deep tissue massage and movement exercises in an attempt to bring the body into correct alignment.
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) — The jaw joint formed by the mandible (lower jaw bone) moving against the temporal bone of the skull.

Alternative treatment

Stress management and behavior modification techniques may be useful to break the habit of clenching and teeth grinding. Tight jaw muscles may be relaxed by applying warm compresses to the sides of the face. Herbal muscle relaxants also can be helpful. Massage therapy and deep tissue realignment, including rolfing, can assist in releasing the clenching pattern. This is a more permanent alternative treatment for bruxism.


Bruxism may cause permanent damage to teeth and chronic jaw pain unless properly diagnosed and promptly treated. The behavior may be eliminated if its underlying causes are found and addressed.


Increased awareness in patients prone to anxiety, aggression, or anger may prevent the habit of bruxism from developing.



Academy of General Dentistry. Suite 1200, 211 East Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.(312) 440-4300.
American Dental Association. 211 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL 60611. (312) 440-2500.
Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


gnashing, grinding, or clenching the teeth, usually during sleep. Repeated and continuous grinding of the teeth over a long period of time can wear down and loosen teeth and cause bone loss secondary to periodontal disease. Bruxism can also cause headache, muscle spasm, and chronic pain in the face and jaw.

Possible causes of bruxism include dental problems, such as malocclusion and high fillings, emotional problems associated with tension and anxiety, and intense concentration for a long period of time during which the person unknowingly tightens the jaw and grinds the teeth.

A dentist can prescribe and fit a night guard to protect the teeth during sleep. If stress is the underlying cause, methods to reduce tension and promote relaxation are sometimes helpful.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.


A clenching of the teeth, associated with forceful lateral or protrusive jaw movements, resulting in rubbing, gritting, or grinding together of the teeth, usually during sleep; sometimes a pathologic condition.
[G. bruchō, to grind the teeth]
Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012


The habitual, involuntary grinding or clenching of the teeth, usually during sleep.
The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2007, 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.


Compulsive grinding or clenching of the teeth, which occurs unconsciously if the person is awake or during stage 2 sleep.

Secondary to anxiety, tension or dental problems.
Segen's Medical Dictionary. © 2012 Farlex, Inc. All rights reserved.


Psychiatry Compulsive grinding or clenching of teeth, which occurs unconsciously while awake or during stage 2 sleep. May be secondary to anxiety, tension, or dental problems
McGraw-Hill Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


A clenching of the teeth,associated with forceful lateral or protrusive jaw movements, resulting in rubbing, gritting, or grinding together of the teeth, usually during sleep; sometimes a pathologic condition.
See also: parafunction
[G. bruchō, to grind the teeth]
Medical Dictionary for the Health Professions and Nursing © Farlex 2012


Habitual grinding or clenching of the teeth, often to the point of wearing away the enamel and eroding the crowns. The habit is often unconscious. Bruxism is also common during sleep.
Collins Dictionary of Medicine © Robert M. Youngson 2004, 2005


A clenching of the teeth, associated with forceful lateral or protrusive jaw movements, resulting in rubbing, gritting, or grinding together of the teeth, usually during sleep.
[G. bruchō, to grind the teeth]
Medical Dictionary for the Dental Professions © Farlex 2012
References in periodicals archive ?
Frequency of tooth brushing, bruxism, eating or drinking oranges, apples, lemon, pickles, dried-roasted seeds, and fizzy drinks was calculated as the number of occurrences per month, that is, discrete data, except for dried seeds which was calculated as the approximate number of minutes of eating this type of foodstuff per month (i.e., continuous scale data).
The latest report by Market Research Future (MRFR) affirms that the Global Sleeping Bruxism Treatment Market is set to accrue USD 638.22 million at 6.7% CAGR during the forecast period (2018-2023).
In young people aged between 18 and 29 years, the prevalence of bruxism was 13%.7 Another study on Brazilian population on undergraduate students showed that 31.6% of the students had bruxism.8 Investigations have found an association between bruxism and temporomandibular disorders (TMD), and that both may be involved in triggering and/or maintaining these conditions.9, 10 Students affected by bruxism have tendency to have an irregular sleep pattern, delay in the beginning and ending of sleep.11 No local literature is available on this topic so this study will help to the status of bruxism in local population.
Masseter hypertrophy with and without bruxism is treated similarly with botulinum toxin to sculpt the lower face.
In our study, most common sleep disorder was insomnia, followed by nightmare, bruxism and sleep apnea respectively and 51.6% of academicians were suffering from one or more sleep disorder.
Roughly 8% of adults have bruxism, according to a 2005 study, and more than 30 % snore, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
Sleep health company SleepScore Labs reported on Tuesday the completion of the acquisition of and its wearable and digital app that detects snoring and bruxism.
Bruxism is a parafunctional habit defined among sleep disorders as "repetitive jaw muscle activity characterized by the clenching or grinding of teeth and/or bracing or thrusting of the mandible" [10] that can occur during the morning (awake bruxism) or night time (sleep bruxism--SB).