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What Is Bruxism?

Bruxism is a condition in which you tightly clench your teeth and grind them back and forth. This causes stress on your facial muscles, tissues and jaws. Over time, it can wear down your teeth.

Bruxism can lead to temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) – a painful condition that affects your facial muscles and jawbones.

The exact cause of bruxism isn’t known. Increasing levels of personal stress may contribute to or increase its frequency and symptoms. Causes may include:

  • Improperly aligned teeth
  • Poor posture
  • Trouble relaxing
  • Diet and nutrition imbalances
  • Poor sleeping habits


Bruxism may not cause obvious symptoms, especially if it happens at night during deep sleep. It may be noisy enough to bother others sleeping nearby.

Habitual bruxism can cause pain. The level of discomfort may depend on tightness, pressure and frequency of grinding. Bruxism symptoms can get worse during stressful times.

Bruxism symptoms can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Earaches
  • Eating disorders
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Jaw pain
  • Muscle soreness
  • Sensitive teeth

Treatment Options

Treatment includes testing to rule out causes such as dental problems, an ear infection, or muscle, jaw and joint disorders. Your doctor may suggest facial massage, stress reduction and relaxation.

Treatment can include referral to a physical therapist or other specialists for related conditions. These may include sleeplessness, anxiety, depression, dental problems or TMJ.

The following tips may help ease or manage discomfort:

  • Apply ice or wet heat to facial muscles.
  • Do not chew gum.
  • Limit hard or tough foods such as candy or steak.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Get adequate exercise and sleep.

Ready for an Appointment?

If you're experiencing signs or symptoms of bruxism, schedule an appointment or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) today.

Learn more about our doctors and care team who diagnose and treat bruxism.