Jaw Clenching


Bruxism, a condition characterized by the habitual grinding, clenching, or gnashing of teeth, can occur both during the day (awake bruxism) and at night (sleep bruxism). Often, individuals are unaware of this involuntary behavior, particularly nocturnal bruxism, which can lead to several adverse oral health effects.

Symptoms of bruxism vary among individuals. Teeth grinding or clenching might produce audible sounds noticed by a bed partner or family member, indicating the presence of bruxism during sleep. Additionally, individuals might experience jaw pain, fatigue, or stiffness upon waking. Over time, the repeated grinding can wear down tooth enamel, leading to increased tooth sensitivity. Facial pain, headaches (especially in the temples or jaw area), and earaches are also common symptoms associated with bruxism.

The causes of bruxism can be multifactorial, including stress, anxiety, malocclusion (improper teeth alignment), or lifestyle factors. Stress is often cited as a primary trigger for both daytime and nighttime teeth grinding. Individuals experiencing stress or anxiety may unknowingly clench their jaw or grind their teeth as a coping mechanism.


• Clinical Examination: Dentists look for signs of tooth wear, jaw tenderness, or muscle fatigue.

• Patient History: Inquire about symptoms like headaches, jaw pain, or tooth sensitivity.

• Bruxism Appliances: Assessing wear patterns on custom nightguards or occlusal splints.


• Nightguards or Occlusal Splints: Custom-fit mouthguards to protect teeth from grinding during sleep.

• Stress Management Techniques: Relaxation exercises, counseling, or stress reduction methods.

• Behavioral Therapy: Techniques to help break the habit of clenching or grinding.

• Orthodontic Treatment: Correcting misaligned teeth that contribute to bruxism.

Regular dental visits are essential for monitoring the effects of bruxism on teeth and gums. Dentists can identify signs of wear, recommend appropriate interventions, and provide guidance on managing stress-related bruxism.

Educating individuals about the potential causes and consequences of bruxism empowers them to adopt preventive measures, seek timely professional care, and implement strategies to manage stress, ultimately safeguarding their oral health.