Bruxism and Clenching

Bruxism, the clenching or grinding of the teeth, can cause jaw pain, ear aches, headaches, tinnitus, and damage to the teeth. While most cases are mild and do not cause these symptoms, bruxism can be an impediment to both good dental health and general quality of life.


Bruxism can occur either during the day or while sleeping. People who clench their teeth during sleep may not know there is a problem until someone else tells them - or until severe symptoms arise and the patient seeks treatment. Several factors affect the severity of the problem:

  • Stress tends to exacerbate the condition
  • Diet can either increase or decrease the severity of the problem
  • Poor sleeping habits worsen clenching
  • Misaligned teeth can cause the effects to be more severe
  • Smoking and drug use are associated with bruxism


Once the problem is identified, bruxism is quite treatable. Your dentist is trained to identify signs of clenching and develop a treatment plan after diagnosis.


Treatment has several goals: to treat the symptoms caused by clenching, such as tooth damage and jaw pain; to stop the patient from clenching in the short term, by physically preventing the act; and to change the patient's habits in the long term, by stopping him or her from clenching. The following regimens are used to meet these goals:

  • Crowns on the teeth can replace natural crowns if necessary
  • The dentist may prescribe a dental guard, which protects the teeth from one another
  • In severe cases, Botox may be applied to weaken the muscles responsible for clenching
  • Dietary supplements can reduce gastric problems
  • Biofeedback techniques, such as a biofeedback headband, may be used to to train the body to stop clenching
  • Stress reduction techniques, such as yoga, meditation, or behavioral therapy, may reduce the occurrence and severity of bruxism


Depending on the severity of the condition, some or all of these treatments may be applied. Taken together, these techniques are effective at reducing or eliminating the occurrence of clenching.



About the Author
Dr. Steffany Mohan is the Owner of Plaza Dental Group and is a leading dentist in Des Moines, Iowa. Dr. Mohan is an expert in implant, pediatric, gum disease and cosmetic dentistry, is Invisalign certified and has gained a reputation of excellence in the dentistry community. Google+

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  • Thank you all for your valuable replies. I completely agree with Vu Le. Stress not only affects the major organs of the body (as commonly precepted) but also many of the problems of the mouth and teeth as well. If stress is brought under control most of the problems would automatically be treated without having to take any medicines or visiting the doc.

  • Nice and informative blog Dr. Steffany.

    The main reason of grinding and clenching is stress. Clenching may do more harm than grinding because clenching can cause degenration in the joint. One can reduce grinding and clenching by using some tips like:
    * Take a warm bath before bedtime. It can relax your jaw temporarily.
    * Do exercise or a walk. They may help to relieve your tension and stress. As i said the main reason of grinding and clenching is stress.
    * Remind yourself not to clench. Do anything which will remind you to keep your jaw relax. for example any dot on your cell phone or watch, sticky note etc.

  • Thanks dr.steffany for the post...i was just looking for this..Your post is so helpful and informative :)

    Thanks alot!

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