What is bruxism?

Posted by Lisa Edwards on May 10th 2016

What is bruxism?

bruxism pain

What is bruxism?

Night grinding, also called bruxism, is a condition in which a person grinds or clenches their teeth. Bruxism is one of the most common sleep disorders, affecting 8-10% of the population. Most people have a mild form of night grinding at some point in their lives.

Symptoms Include:

  • Headaches
  • Neck pain
  • Dental damage (wearing of the bite surfaces of the teeth)
  • Disorders of the jaw (pain and limited movement)
  • Significant joint pain or Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ)

What causes bruxism?

There is little evidence that points to the exact cause of bruxism. Studies suggest that nearly 70% of bruxism cases are caused by chronic stress. Bruxism has also been linked to other conditions such as sleep apnea, medication, life habits and sleep disorders. 

Anxiety and stress

One of the most common conditions that can lead to bruxism is stress and anxiety. These factors are psychological and mental problems that affect people who suffer from teeth grinding subconsciously when they are asleep. Studies show that excessive chronic stress can affect your sleep resulting to occurrence of sleep bruxism.

Sleep disorders

There are many research studies linking sleep disorders such as sleep apnea to bruxism. These sleep disorders can cause a disruption to breathing while a person is asleep. It has also been suggested that people who experience sleep paralysis, hallucinations, behave aggressively while asleep or even talk in their sleep are more likely to experience bruxism.

Life habits

This teeth grinding disorder may as well occur due to specific life factors which include, excessive alcohol consumption, use of recreational drugs i.e. cocaine and ecstasy, taking six or more cups of caffeinated drinks a day such as coffee or tea and smoking.


With the increase of antipsychotics and antidepressants prescriptions, it has been noted that a side effect of these kinds of medications can lead to teeth grinding. Although it is a rare symptom, if you are taking these medications it’s important to be aware of the possible the side effects.

If you start notice wear on your teeth, pay a visit to your dentist to check for damage and talk about potential treatments.

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