Bruxism: How Can I Manage My Tooth Contacting Habit?

According to a 2021 poll by the American Dental Association (ADA), 71% of dentists observed an increase in tooth grinding and clenching cases among their patients. This condition is called bruxism and happens involuntarily due to various reasons. Let’s dive deeper into this tooth-contacting habit, its symptoms, and how to diagnose, treat, and prevent it.   

What Is Bruxism?

This is when you grind or clench your teeth when not chewing. While occasional grinding is harmless, doing it regularly could damage your teeth and cause headaches and jaw pain. Although anyone can get bruxism, it’s most prevalent among children, adolescents, and young adults.

Tooth grinding takes different forms—while nocturnal bruxism occurs during sleep, diurnal bruxism happens while awake. Note that sleep bruxism doesn’t occur throughout the night. Rather than grinding teeth continuously, the patient experiences inconsistent clenching episodes that might not happen every night.

Additionally, primary bruxism is independent of other medical conditions, while secondary bruxism results from neurological disorders and drug use. 

Signs and Symptoms of Bruxism

If you’re suffering from sleep bruxism, you may notice the following symptoms when awake:

  • Headaches
  • Jaw stiffness
  • Popping sounds when moving your jaw
  • Broken, loose, or worn teeth
  • Loose fillings
  • Facial pain
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Inner cheek sores

Conversely, you might be suffering from wakeful bruxism if you experience the following symptoms while still awake:

  • Dull headaches around the temples
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Tired jaw muscles
  • Worn tooth enamel
  • Inner cheek damage
  • Chipped or loose teeth
  • Loud grinding that other people can hear
  • Facial pain

Contact your dentist if these symptoms are relatable. Additionally, go for regular check-ups to catch the issue before it worsens.

Causes of Bruxism

These factors can trigger tooth grinding:

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Smoking
  • Excessive caffeine intake
  • Alcohol 
  • Antidepressants and medications used to treat anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and seizures 

Impact of Bruxism on Oral Health

Untreated bruxism exposes you to:

  • Facial pain
  • TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders
  • Loose or chipped teeth
  • Sleep disorders 

Diagnosing Bruxism Effectively

Your dentist starts with questions about jaw pain and stiffness, current medications, sleep habits, and potential stressors. Additionally, they can check the jaws, teeth, and cheeks for tenderness, pain, and damage.

A polysomnography or sleep study might also be necessary in some cases. The doctor hooks you up to monitors to check your brain activity, oxygen levels, and breathing rate as you sleep. They might also take video and audio recordings to help detect sleep disorders and muscle activity like grinding and clenching. 

Comprehensive Treatment Strategies

Besides repairing chipped teeth, your dentist can prescribe splints and mouthguards to protect the teeth from harmful movement. Moreover, they can recommend Botox injections for severe cases. This drug limits the mouth’s muscle movement to relieve the symptoms of bruxism. Patients could also benefit from massages and relaxation techniques to ease muscle tension and prevent wakeful bruxism.

Preventative Measures and Lifestyle Modifications

Yoga, meditation, and deep breathing go a long way in reducing stress-related bruxism. Likewise, cut back on alcohol and caffeine to prevent sleep interruptions and reduce muscle hyperactivity. Regular sleep patterns also prevent microarousals that can increase cardiovascular activity and trigger tooth grinding.   

Similarly, train yourself against chewing on pencils and leave written notes around the house to dissuade you from this tooth-contacting habit. 

When to Seek Professional Help

Bruxism isn’t just a dental concern—therapists and sleep specialists should also intervene to address underlying issues. While you can manage teeth grinding on your own, you need professional help in case of:

  • Loose teeth
  • Constant headaches
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Popping sounds from your jaw
  • Earaches


Bruxism management requires a combination of lifestyle changes and quality dental treatment. LeCroy Dental offers speedy dental care to treat existing problems and prevent future ones. Are you struggling to break your tooth-contacting habit?  Contact us today—we can help.