Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)

  • Medical Author: Todd Snyder, DDS
  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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Who is at risk for teeth grinding?

Anyone that has teeth can potentially grind their teeth. Anyone from small toddlers to the elderly and everyone in between can grind their teeth.

What are symptoms and signs of teeth grinding?

Symptoms of teeth grinding include headaches, muscle pain, jaw tenderness, shortened teeth, gum recession, notches or indentations on the gum line of teeth, tooth sensitivity, cracked and broken teeth, and temporomandibular joint syndrome.

What is the treatment for teeth grinding?

A sleep study is recommended to rule out an airway issue because grinding occurs mostly at night while sleeping. If a poor airway is a contributing factor then treatment can be offered for the airway first and sometimes the teeth grinding will cease. Every situation of teeth grinding is managed uniquely, but often a mouth guard fitted by a dentist is helpful. The mouth guard is worn when sleeping to protect the teeth from grinding. Dietary changes, postural modifications, emotional therapy, medications, injections, tooth adjustments and dental work, orthodontics, surgery, are various treatments used.

What is the prognosis for teeth grinding?

The prognosis for teeth grinding can very good, especially if the underlying cause can be determined. If it cannot, then at least wearing a properly fitting mouth guard can protect the teeth from further damage and often lessen the effects on the bone, muscle, and tissues. Babies and toddlers grinding their teeth should always have an airway evaluation.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/13/2016

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