Bruxism (Teeth Grinding): Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2019

Bruxism is the medical term that refers to grinding, gnashing, clenching, or grating the teeth. The tooth grinding may occur at night, when awake, or both.

Signs and symptoms associated with bruxism include signs of tooth wear, such as fractures of teeth and fillings, jaw or facial pain, or making grating sounds with the teeth while sleeping. Other symptoms can include sensitivity of the teeth, headaches, gum damage, and loose teeth.

Causes of bruxism

The exact cause of bruxism is unknown, but psychological factors, including stress, may play a role. Bruxism occurs in people who have certain sleep disorders and may be worsened by drinking alcohol. Improper position of the teeth (malocclusion) may be involved in the development of bruxism.

Other bruxism (teeth grinding) symptoms and signs

  • Fractures of Teeth and Fillings
  • Gum Damage
  • Headaches
  • Jaw or Facial Pain
  • Loose Teeth
  • Making Grating Sounds With the Teeth While Sleeping
  • Signs of Tooth Wear
  • Tooth Sensitivity


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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.