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Bruxism (Tooth Grinding)



Have you ever wonder why your partner or child is producing a scary sound from the teeth while sleeping. They are actually grinding the teeth unconsciously. Medically, tooth grinding is termed as ‘bruxism’. Bruxism is the involuntary, unconscious and excessive grinding of teeth. It also explains the clenching of the teeth which can occur while awake or asleep. People who grinds or clenches the teeth may or may not experience any symptoms.

Children are often found grinding the teeth. However, it may disappear when they reach the adolescent period. It occurs in response to infection or ailments and to relieve pain from allergies.

What causes bruxism?

The causes which lead to bruxism can be due to single or combination of factors. Bruxism may be caused by:

  • Daily stress or tension.
  • Changes in your bite as a result of trauma or dental treatment.
  • Malalignment of the teeth.
  • Certain medical conditions such as Cerebral Palsy
  • Sleeping habits
  • Poor posture
  • Hormonal changes
  • Unknown.

Signs and consequences

You may experience:

  • abnormal wear of the teeth.
  • fractured teeth or filling
  • headache.
  • pain in the jaw joint.
  • painful or sensitive teeth.
  • clicking sound from the jaw joint when opening or closing the mouth.
  • soreness at the angle of the mouth.
  • insomnia
  • earache
  • facial muscle ache

What can you do to relieve the pain?

  • Apply wet warm towel at the jaw joint
  • Stress management (monitoring and controlling the stress)
  • Reduce alcohol intake
  • Visit your dentist for dental check-up. You may need:
    • bite correction and redo of fillings.
    • occlusal splint (mouth guard) to be worn during sleep.

If the bruxism is associated with Temporomandibular joint disorder (jaw joint disorder), there are several options of treatment available.

  • Refer to management of bruxism in relation to Temporomandibular joint disorder


Last reviewed : 20 April 2012
Writer : Dr. Chew Yoke Yuen
    Dr. Norrizan bt. Basir
    Dr. Doreyat b. Jemun
    Dr. Che Noor Aini bt. Che Omar
Reviewer : Dr. Siti Zaleha bt. Hamzah