Teeth Grinding

The undesirable habit of teeth grinding can cause various damages, such as tooth wear and headaches, and it can also affect the temporomandibular joint.

Bruxism is the malfunction whereby the patient, often unaware, clenches or grinds their upper and lower teeth together. It is a very common disorder observed both during the day and during nighttime sleep.

Often, patients recognize the problem of grinding either because they perceive it when they clench their teeth during the day or from the noise of teeth grinding at night. However, research has shown that about 80% of grinding episodes do not produce sound. This means that a large portion of the population may not be aware that they grind their teeth.

Another indicative sign of grinding is characteristic abrasion on the cutting and chewing surfaces of the teeth, which dentists can identify during a clinical examination. Typically, grinders exhibit these characteristic abrasions, but they are not always present.

Research in the field of teeth grinding has not yet succeeded in identifying the causal factor. However, several aggravating factors have been found. Aggravating factors are those that may worsen a condition without necessarily causing it.

Anxiety and emotional stress are perhaps the primary aggravating factors of grinding. It is a fact that many patients report feeling like they clench their teeth more when they are irritated or upset. Other aggravating factors that have been mentioned include certain medications, as well as possible genetic predisposition.


Typically, teeth grinders exhibit certain characteristic symptoms, some of which disappear when grinding ceases. These symptoms do not always manifest and not with the same severity in everyone. The most characteristic of these are:

  • Headaches (mainly after waking up in the morning)
  • Pain in the ear area (unrelated to ear pathology such as otitis)
  • Muscle pain or tightness in the facial area, cheeks, neck, or shoulders
  • Pain when chewing
  • Difficulty opening the mouth
  • Discomfort or noises in the temporomandibular joint area
  • Sounds from teeth grinding during sleep
  • Characteristic abrasions on the chewing and cutting surfaces of the teeth
  • Cracks and fractures in teeth, fillings, and dental work
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Impressions on the sides of the tongue


Addressing teeth grinding begins with recognizing the problem. Daytime grinding is primarily addressed through behavior modification. The patient learns to become aware of the moment they clench their teeth and consciously stops grinding, ensuring to relax their jaw and keep their teeth in their normal position without contacting each other.

As for nighttime grinding, the most important aspect of treatment involves the construction of a suitable custom-made hard acrylic splint that the patient wears during sleep. This splint, if properly designed, helps protect the teeth and relax the masticatory muscles that are overactive during grinding.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.