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29 October 2019

Categories: Dental Care
Bruxism - Teeth Grinding

Bruxism, more commonly known as tooth grinding is the gnashing and grinding of teeth most commonly at night and is not able to be controlled consciously. Most people who grind their teeth do not actually realize they are doing it! Normally someone sharing a room or another family member would be the one to detect it. It often sounds like the classic “nails on chalkboard” sounds or similar to course ceramic rubbing on each other.

The actual cause of bruxism has not been isolated, although it is linked to stress and other possibly other medical conditions such as sleep apnoea. Although most people have no symptoms and may not be aware of it, others may be experiencing a myriad of them. Symptoms can range from mild tooth sensitivity to severe jaw pain, and others may also experience headaches, jaw stiffness especially just after waking up, pain when biting or chewing or even clicking of the jaw joints.

What Do Dentists Look Out for in Patient Who Have Bruxism?

During a routine check-up, dentists lookout for a number of things including some of the following:

    • Signs of wear on the grinding surfaces of teeth
      Mild wear is normal and to be expected after many years of chomping down and grinding up meals however excessive wear exposing the inner layer of teeth (dentine) may be a good indication of bruxism.
    • Muscle soreness and joint clicking
      Soreness on palpation of cheek muscles and with opening and closing are things to look out for. Also clicking or deviation of the jaw with opening and closing may be a sign that the muscles or joints are affected.
    • Tooth mobility and soreness, or tooth sensitivity
      Occasionally, gentle tapping or pressure may be used to gauge if teeth are starting to have any excessive movement or any soreness as they may be subject to large forces at night during tooth grinding.
    • Headaches or earaches
      The close relation of the jaw musculature and the continued tightness of the muscles may give rise of regular headaches.

Ways to Treat Symptoms of Grinding

With mild tooth grinding, without symptoms, sometimes no treatment is required. However, once symptoms arise there can be a few methods to manage them.

  • Symptomatic management including pain medication and muscle relaxation medication
  • Heat packs used directly onto sore or stiff muscles
  • Jaw exercises to help loosen tight jaw muscles
  • Desensitising toothpastes to manage tooth sensitivity
  • Night guards or occlusal splints to be worn at night


Night guards or occlusal splints are custom made plastic guards similar to sports guards that serve to protect the teeth from grinding themselves aware, slowly the wear rate on teeth. In addition, they function to loosen the muscles as when worn, jaw muscles have less contraction force and hence reduce the strain on jaw muscles and joints.

These are made by taking an impression of the teeth at the dentist and sending to the dental laboratory for fabrication, hence fitting perfectly in the mouth. They can also come in an array of colours and can brighten up your day.

Seeking Treatment Advice from Professionals

Always ask your dentist if you suspect you have symptoms of bruxism and your dentist will be able to advise you on treatment options and management plans to help you with it.

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