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Bruxism: Signs, Symptoms, and Risks

Adults and children can experience bruxism

Signs and Symptoms of Bruxism

Have you ever noticed pain that feels like an earache, but you don't actually have a problem with your ear? There is a possibility that you have bruxism. This is a condition in which you grind or clench your teeth. Bruxism can occur while you're asleep or subconsciously when you're awake. Both children and adults can experience it. Some of the signs and symptoms of bruxism include:

  • Dull headache around the temples
  • Pain that feels like an earache, but it's not
  • Having trouble with opening or closing the mouth completely (locked jaw); stiff jaw
  • Chipped, flattened, broken, or worn teeth
  • Tooth/jaw ache
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Clenching/ grinding loud enough to disrupt you or your partner's sleep


Bruxism may lead to:

  • Damage to your teeth, fillings, crowns, or jaws
  • Tension-type headaches
  • Chronic facial or jaw pain
  • Temporomandibular joint disorders
  • Arthritis in the jaw

Schedule a dental appointment or talk about your concerns during a regular checkup if you or your child experience any signs or symptoms of bruxism. Your dentist may recommend an occlusal guard to ease clenching and grinding and to protect the teeth from further damage. If your bruxism is stress related, the dentist can recommend stress management methods or refer you to a specialist.

What risk factors are associated with bruxism?

The cause of bruxism is unknown. However, risk factors associated with clenching and grinding may include:

  • Stress/Anxiety
  • Aggressive, competitive, or hyperactive personality
  • Sleep disorders
  • Medications
  • Consuming alcohol, smoking tobacco, or using recreational drugs

Note: The information in this document is not meant to replace the advice of your dentist or another licensed healthcare professional. Talk to your dentist for any specific dental advice.