Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)

Many people grind or clench their teeth during the day or night. Most are unaware they are doing it. Teeth grinding may be triggered by teeth being improperly aligned (malocclusion). Other causes may be:

  • Stress.

  • Worry.

  • Sleep disorders.

Teeth grinding sometimes causes muscle spasms and headaches. Most often, these headaches are classified as tension type. Teeth grinding may also lead to:

  • Jaw problems (temporomandibular joint disorder [TMJ]).

  • Facial pain.

  • Damaged teeth.

Teeth grinding is quite common in children, usually without pain. Most of the time it will disappear by adolescence.


Seek dental care if you or your child has:

  • Pain.

  • Trouble when opening the mouth.

  • Damage to teeth.

A dentist often can ease those symptoms by fitting a small splint or mouth guard (appliance) to the upper or lower teeth. It is usually worn during sleep. Medications and other stress reduction techniques are sometimes used.