Bruxism Treatment: How to Stop Teeth Grinding

Bruxism, or teeth grinding, is a common disorder that can cause serious dental problems and disrupt sleep. Fortunately, there are several effective treatment options available for managing and preventing this condition. In this blog, we will explore the different methods of bruxism treatment including oral appliances, behavioral therapies, and medications to help you stop teeth grinding and preserve your dental health.

What is Bruxism?

Bruxism is a dental condition characterized by the excessive grinding or clenching of teeth, which can occur both during the day and night, often unconsciously. It is a common condition that affects a significant portion of the population and can cause damage to the teeth, gums, and jaw bones.

Symptoms of Bruxism

  • Teeth that have worn down enamel, revealing deeper layers of the tooth
  • Heightened tooth pain or sensitivity
  • Tired or tense jaw muscles or difficulty opening or closing the jaw
  • Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or face
  • Pain that feels like an earache, but is actually originating from another source
  • Headaches that begin in the temples
  • Damage caused by biting the inside of the cheek
  • Interruptions in sleep due to the above symptoms.

If left untreated, it can lead to more severe oral problems like worn down teeth, tooth fractures, and even temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ).

Types of Bruxism

Bruxism can be broadly classified into two types: awake bruxism and sleep bruxism.

  • Awake bruxism, also known as diurnal bruxism, is the type of bruxism that occurs during the day while a person is awake. It is typically associated with stress and anxiety and can occur at any time of the day, although it is most common during periods of intense concentration or focus.
  • Sleep Bruxism (SB) is a type of bruxism that occurs during sleep, characterized by the grinding or clenching of teeth. This condition is considered a sleep-related movement disorder and is often associated with other sleep disorders such as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).

On average, a person with bruxism exerts around 250 pounds of force on the teeth.

Who Is at Risk for Bruxism?

There are several factors that can increase a person’s risk of developing bruxism, including:

  • Stress and anxiety: Patients who are under a lot of stress or have anxiety disorders may be more likely to grind or clench their teeth.
  • Certain medications: Certain medications, such as antipsychotics, can increase the risk of bruxism.
  • Other sleep disorders: Patients with sleep disorders such as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) may be more likely to develop bruxism.
  • Substance abuse: Alcohol and tobacco use can increase the risk of bruxism.
  • Age: Bruxism is more common in children and adolescents, but can affect people of all ages.
  • Gender: Bruxism is more common in males than females.

It’s important to note that many people who grind or clench their teeth do not have any obvious risk factors. Therefore, it’s important to be aware of the symptoms and seek help from a dental professional if you suspect you have bruxism.

Diagnosis of Bruxism

During regular dental check-ups, Dr. Postol will be on the lookout for any signs of bruxism. They will closely inspect your teeth and mouth to detect any changes or abnormalities.


If any signs are detected, Dr. Postol will monitor your teeth and mouth over the next few appointments to determine the severity of the condition and if treatment is necessary.

Identifying the root cause

In order to understand the reason for your bruxism, Dr. Postol may ask you questions about your overall dental health, medications, daily habits, and sleep patterns.

Evaluating the extent of bruxism

To fully understand the extent of your bruxism, Dr. Postol may check for:

  • Pain or discomfort in the jaw muscles
  • Dental abnormalities such as broken or missing teeth
  • Damage to teeth, underlying bone, and inside of cheeks, with the help of X-rays
  • Other disorders that may cause similar jaw or ear pain, such as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders or other health conditions.

Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial in preventing any long-term damage to the teeth and jaw. If you suspect you may have bruxism, it is important to consult with your dentist and follow their recommended treatment plan.

How Can Bruxism Be Prevented?

There are several steps that can be taken to prevent bruxism or reduce the frequency and severity of teeth grinding and jaw clenching. Some preventive measures include:

  1. Stress management: Stress is a common trigger for bruxism, so practicing stress-reducing techniques such as relaxation exercises, yoga, and meditation can help prevent or reduce the occurrence of bruxism.
  2. Avoiding triggers: Identifying and avoiding things that trigger bruxism, such as alcohol, caffeine, and certain medications, can help reduce the frequency of episodes.
  3. Good sleep hygiene: Ensuring that you have a comfortable sleep environment and a regular sleep schedule can help prevent bruxism.
  4. Proper oral care: Regular dental check-ups, good oral hygiene, and properly aligned teeth can help prevent bruxism.
  5. Changing certain habits: such as biting nails, chewing gum, or holding objects between the teeth can be a factor in developing bruxism, so avoiding these habits can prevent the condition.

Consulting with a dentist or doctor can help determine the underlying causes of bruxism and develop an appropriate prevention and treatment plan.

How Is Bruxism Treated?

The treatment for bruxism in both adults and children can be similar but may vary depending on the individual’s specific needs and the underlying cause of the condition.

For adults:

  • Oral appliances such as a custom-made mouthguard or splint can be worn during sleep to protect the teeth from grinding and clenching.
  • Behavioral therapies such as stress management techniques, biofeedback, and cognitive-behavioral therapy can help control the muscle activity associated with bruxism.
  • Medications such as muscle relaxants may be prescribed to reduce muscle activity associated with bruxism.
  • Dental treatments such as the repair or replacement of damaged teeth may be necessary to fix damage caused by bruxism.
  • Surgery may be recommended in severe cases to correct jaw position or repair damage to the jaw joint.

For children:

  • Dental appliances such as a mouthguard are commonly used to protect the teeth from grinding.
  • Behavioral therapies can help children learn how to control muscle activity associated with bruxism.
  • Dental treatments such as the repair or replacement of damaged teeth may be necessary to fix damage caused by bruxism.
  • Medications are generally not recommended for children but may be considered in severe cases.
  • Early intervention is important for children to prevent long-term damage to the teeth and jaw.

It’s important to note that treatment for bruxism is often most effective when a combination of methods is used and that regular follow-ups with the dentist or doctor are essential to monitor progress and make any necessary adjustments.

Types of Mouthguards

To combat bruxism, many individuals turn to mouthguards as a form of treatment. There are several types of mouthguards available, each with its own benefits and drawbacks.

  • Stock nightguard. These are generic, over-the-counter options that can be purchased at pharmacies or general stores. They are designed to fit the average bite, but may not always stay in place during sleep.
  • Boil-and-bite nightguard. These are made from a thermoplastic material that is heated in hot water to make them more pliable. The patient then shapes it to their bite using their fingers and tongue. While these guards can provide a better fit than stock options, they still have a tendency to have fitting issues.
  • Custom mouthguard. These are individually designed by dentists using molds of a patient’s teeth and constructed in a laboratory. They offer a precise fit and long-lasting protection, but require a significant investment of time, energy, and resources, making them more expensive than the other options.

Ultimately, the type of mouthguard that is best for you will depend on your specific needs and budget. Consult with Dr. Postol to determine which option is best for you.

Preparing for Your Appointment

To make the most of your appointment, it is helpful to come prepared with information about your medical history, symptoms, personal circumstances, and any medications you are currently taking.

Before your appointment, consider making a list of:

  • Your previous experiences with bruxism or related issues
  • Any symptoms you are currently experiencing, including the timing and severity of pain
  • Any recent changes or stressors in your life
  • A list of all medications and dosages that you are currently taking

During your appointment, some important questions to ask might include:

  • What is the likely cause of my symptoms?
  • Are there other possible causes to consider?
  • What is the most effective treatment approach?
  • Are there alternative treatment options?
  • How can I manage my bruxism alongside other health issues?
  • Are there any generic alternatives to the prescribed medication?

If you suspect you have bruxism, schedule a consultation with Dr. Postol. Our team offers years of experience and a high level of care for teeth grinding and related symptoms. Contact us for friendly, professional service in a welcoming environment. Don’t wait, get treatment now.

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