Bruxism: what is it? See causes, symptoms, treatment, plaque

Stress , anxiety and tension are common in everyday life, but when they become more present in our lives, care is needed.

One of the disorders caused by these excess factors is bruxism. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 30% of people worldwide have this condition. In Brazil, the rate reaches 40%.

Bruxism is a disorder linked to emotional issues, which causes people to create the involuntary habit of biting and grinding their teeth while sleeping.

The action ends up wearing the teeth, causing headaches and even disorders of the joint between the jaw and the skull (temporomandibular).

Know this disorder and know the ways to treat it


What is bruxism?

Bruxism is a disorder in which the individual bites or grits his teeth, involuntarily or semi-voluntarily , during sleep (nocturnal bruxism) or awake in stressful situations (briquism).

While briquism is more related to stress, anxiety or the use of medications, nocturnal bruxism is considered a movement disorder related to sleep, which can also be triggered by the use of medications, neurological disorders or respiratory changes (such as apnea).

Regardless of the type, the condition creates wear and tear on the teeth and pains in the head, ear and jaw region.

Many people are unaware that they have the disorder and only find out when they see a dentist, who identifies signs of wear on their teeth.

Bruxism has no cure, but due to medical advances, there are different treatments for each type of disorder, aiming to offer quality of life to the patient.

In the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Health-Related Problems (ICD-10), bruxism is classified by code K07.6 – Temporomandibular joint disorders.

Types of bruxism

Bruxism is divided into 2 types: daytime, called briquism and awake bruxism, and nighttime, known as sleep bruxism:

Daytime (on watch)

Daytime bruxism (called briquism) is the act of clenching teeth during periods when the person is awake, being a semi-voluntary action.

In general, it can be considered a habit or a vicious action (nervous tic).

Its cause is related to a high level of stress, both physical and emotional, or as a side effect of using some medication, such as those for the treatment of anxiety and Parkinson’s.

In the long run, briquism can cause headaches and problems with the jaw joint.

Nocturne (from sleep)

Sleep bruxism, on the other hand, consists of the clenching and grinding of teeth, done involuntarily, while the person sleeps.

As, in general, the patient can rub or slide the teeth on each other, the action causes wear on the teeth, impairing oral health .

There are several factors that can trigger this problem, which is divided into primary, when there is no relation to changes in the organism, and secondary, in which it is related to the use of medication (fluoxetine, paroxetine), respiratory disorders (snoring, apnea) or neurological problems.

Childhood Bruxism

Bruxism is common in children up to 6 years old, due to the teeth growing and settling in the gums. Even though it is relatively frequent in age, it is necessary for a specialist to monitor the case so as not to cause complications.

Sleep bruxism, which causes a child to clench his teeth while sleeping, is usually related to anxiety and emotional changes.

When there are stressful situations, for example, change of school, separation from parents or agitated routine, other signs can be observed, such as bed wetting (enuresis) and sleepwalking.

In addition, there is a prevalence of allergic conditions or respiratory disorders in children diagnosed with sleep bruxism. Therefore, respiratory tract infections can influence the development of childhood bruxism, such as rhinitis , asthma and other allergies.

What is the difference between bruxism and briquism?

Bruxism and briquism are conditions in which the patient squeezes or rubs the teeth to the point of causing pain and affecting the tooth structure.

However, briquism occurs when the person is awake, being considered a habit or semi-voluntary response to stressful situations. Night bruxism is an involuntary action, being considered a sleep disorder.



The exact cause of bruxism is still unclear, but the emotional, genetic and behavioral factors may be related, especially when they are presented together. That is, bruxism, day or night, is a multifactorial condition:


When we go through periods when there was a lot of worry, anxiety and stress, emotional overload can cause bruxism.

Maintaining an exhausting routine, physically or emotionally, can trigger involuntary responses by the body.

Usually, people who develop nocturnal bruxism through stressful situations tend to stop grinding their teeth when the emotional factor is improved.

However, if briquette occurs, it is possible to establish a habit of grinding your teeth, which can remain even without stressful conditions.


Some personalities tend to develop bruxism more easily, for example, among those who are more aggressive, hyperactive, anxious and competitive.

Bruxism appears in these personalities as a way for the body to express the stored energy, when it finds itself in certain situations such as fights, competitions, etc.


Bruxism can be caused by medications of continuous use, such as some medications used for depression , Parkinson’s disease, autism or concentration disorders.

These drugs act on the body and have the side effect of developing bruxism in some people.


When there are cases of bruxism in the family, it is likely that the condition may appear in some other member.

About 21% to 50% of patients with bruxism have a first-degree relative, such as siblings, who had the condition during childhood.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD , can be associated with nocturnal bruxism or briquism.

When the disorder is not properly treated, the stress situations resulting from the condition can be intense, triggering the grinding of teeth during the day or at night.

Risk factors


Some habits can cause bruxism to develop, they are:

Alcohol consumption

Alcohol consumption may be related to nocturnal bruxism, which may double the chances of an episode occurring.

Drinking affects the central nervous system. Especially if consumption is close to bedtime, it can generate agitation, alter muscle activation and reduce the quality of sleep.


Coffee, teas, energy drinks and soft drinks contain caffeine in their composition, which is a stimulating substance.

Abusing these products or ingesting them close to bedtime can affect the quality of sleep and stimulate the brain system, which can trigger an episode of bruxism.


Smoking stimulates the development of bruxism due to nicotine, a stimulating substance present in cigarettes.

It is able to affect dopamine neurotransmitters (well-being hormone) and generate involuntary functioning of the jaw, which results in the development of bruxism.

In smokers, the chance of bruxism is 3 times higher than in non-smokers.


Bruxism can appear at different stages of life, but it is common to appear in childhood, usually associated with the birth of teeth, and tends to disappear after the dental arch is complete.

Stressful conditions

Both physical and emotional stress can be a risk factor for bruxism. Situations that generate frequent anxiety, exhausting routines or physically exhausting activities can be associated.

Family cases

When you have a close relative with bruxism, there are greater risks of the condition manifesting itself as well.

What are the symptoms of bruxism?

Due to the act of grinding, clenching or shaving the teeth, it is common for the patient to experience pain in the jaw and head joint. In addition, over time, the following may occur:

  • Flat, fractured, chipped or loose teeth;
  • Pains in the jaw and neck;
  • Difficulty opening your mouth in the morning;
  • Ringing in the ear;
  • Jaw muscles tired or tense;
  • Chewing stopped (the mouth does not open or close completely);
  • Earache;
  • Click or click when moving the mouth joint;
  • Interruptions during sleep;
  • Wounds or bleeding gums.

Read more: Sleep disorders increase chances of having Alzheimer’s

How to diagnose bruxism?

The professionals responsible for diagnosing and treating bruxism are the dentist , the psychiatrist and the speech therapist .

The condition can be diagnosed after some related symptoms appear, such as headaches, or when the dentist observes wear and tear of the teeth.

Therefore, the diagnosis consists of observing the signs of the condition (such as tooth decay) and the patient’s report.

But some tests can help in the diagnosis:

Intra-oral radiology (x-ray of the mouth)

The image exam is able to observe fractures, wear or changes in the teeth, in addition to allowing the analysis of the structures of the jaw and gums.

Bite force detection

The exam consists of a mouth plate or mold with sensors that measure the strength suffered. The patient bites the equipment in order to check the strength, intensity or if there are changes in the performance of any movement.

Thus, it is possible to analyze the health of the muscles involved in chewing.


Most cases of bruxism happen during sleep, so an exam that can diagnose the disease without a doubt is polysomnography (sleep exams).

It is useful to identify the degree of the movements of bruxism and can also rule out other disorders that may be behind the pain in the jaw or ear pain , which can be:

  • Dental disorders;
  • Ear disorders, such as infections;
  • Problems with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).

The test is painless and performed by placing sensors (similar to small stickers) on certain parts of the body, such as the head. The procedure can record information about breathing, brain and muscle activity.

Does Bruxism Have a Cure?

Unfortunately, the total cure for bruxism does not yet exist. But medicine has advanced, currently there are several treatments that can alleviate the condition.

What is the treatment for bruxism?

Treatments are usually multidisciplinary, involving psychological, behavioral and pharmacological therapies. The most suitable resources for the treatment of bruxism are:

Use of dental plaque

One of the most used treatments in cases of bruxism are the so-called flexible interocclusal plates and the rigid acrylic plates. They are made from the shape of the patient’s mouth, so that they help to correct movements and reduce friction between the teeth, avoiding wear and preventing jaw pain.


Using an orthodontic appliance can help in the treatment of bruxism, as it helps in correcting the dental arch and improving the fit.


In cases considered mild of bruxism, exercises to relax the jaw and teeth can be recommended.

They can be made at home, following instructions from the dentist, or in the office itself. There is also physical therapy for the face region, which can help with the pain caused by bruxism.

Psychological monitoring

Often, the origin of bruxism is emotional factors, such as anxiety or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. In such cases, psychological treatment is essential to reduce mental stress.

However, in general, all patients with bruxism benefit from therapy, as soon as the teeth clenching tends to worsen with stress or anxiety situations.


Botulinum toxin, popularly known as botox , is an ally in the treatment of bruxism and briquism.

Being applied to the muscles of the face, responsible for the movements of the jaw, it helps in relieving the force that is performed when the patient closes his mouth.

The result appears after up to 3 weeks of application of the toxin and its duration, depending on the case, can last from 4 to 6 months.

The application of botox is done by needle and syringe, but it does not present pain to the individual and is performed quickly.

Complementary treatment

Alternative treatments exist on the market, which can also help the body to reduce the habit of grinding or pressing teeth:

Meditation and yoga

These two physical activities are recommended for people who suffer from bruxism, as many cases occur due to excess stress and anxiety.

When performing one of these activities, the body tends to relax, gradually making the person better deal with emotions, promoting a reduction in episodes of bruxism.


Acupuncture consists of using small needles at the points that cause the problem – in the case of bruxism, it is in the region of the face.

Therapy can help eliminate pain, relax and calm the mind, promoting circulation and taking care of the immune system.

Homemade treatment for bruxism


The treatment of bruxism should be done with specialized professionals. But some tips, made at home, can bring good results to relieve the discomfort caused by the condition.

To help reduce pain in the jaw area, it is possible to make a hot compress, leaving it for 20 minutes where it hurts.

In addition, some measures reduce the stress of the routine and bring improvements to the whole body, such as:

  • Have chamomile, lavender, rosemary or lemon balm tea before bed, to relax;
  • Putting floral scents, specific to environments, in the sleeping room can help you sleep;
  • Take hot baths to relax your body.

Read more: Home remedies for toothache: how to reduce the discomfort?


To help reduce tooth sensitivity caused by tooth wear, there are some toothpastes that can be beneficial for those who live with bruxism:

  • Sensitive Pro-Relief toothpaste (Colgate) ;
  • Sensitive Pro-Relief Toothpaste Repairs Enamel (Colgate) ;
  • Sensitive Pro-Relief MultiProtection toothpaste (Colgate).


The drugs are used as aids in the treatment of bruxism, therefore, they are indicated for the control of stress, anxiety and pain.

The following can be prescribed:

  • Anxiolytics ( Valium , Rivotril , Diazepam );
  • Painkillers ( Neosaldina , Advil , Tylenol ).


NEVER self-medicate or stop using a medication without first consulting a doctor. Only he will be able to tell which medication, dosage and duration of treatment is the most suitable for his specific case. The information contained on this site is only intended to inform, not in any way intended to replace the guidance of a specialist or serve as a recommendation for any type of treatment. Always follow the instructions on the package insert and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.


Bruxism causes abnormal wear on the enamel of the teeth and gums, which can cause breakage, fissures and permanent damage to more fragile teeth and disturbances in the temporomandibular joints (TMJs), causing pain in the act of eating.

Bruxism is not a dangerous disorder, but it can cause permanent damage to teeth, headache attacks and earache. For this reason, it is important to seek a dentist and seek, together with other professionals, the best form of treatment.


Some tips can help prevent cases of bruxism or briquism, they are:

  • Have a good night of sleep;
  • Practice physical exercises of your choice;
  • Do not chew excess gum;
  • Do not bite hard objects, such as pen tips;
  • Listen to calm music before bed;
  • Use relaxation techniques, such as breathing;
  • Reduce stress in everyday life;
  • Get therapy to relieve emotions and help with behavior;
  • Reduce alcohol consumption;
  • Stop smoking.

Read more: Change habits and find out how to sleep well

Common questions

Is bruxism considered a disease?

No , bruxism is classified as a disorder of the organism, closely related to stress. It is manifested by the act of grinding or clenching the teeth (while sleeping or awake), which causes wear on the teeth and makes the individual suffer from headaches.

How much does a bruxism plate cost?

The plaque is shaped by the dentist especially for the patient. The value depends on the material of the board, which can be silicone or acrylic. If it is an acrylic plate, the price is around R $ 500, whereas the silicone plate costs an average of R $ 250.

Can the bruxism plaque cure this problem?

No , because there is still no cure for bruxism. But due to medical advances, there are different treatments to improve the quality of life of those who have bruxism.

How do I know if I have bruxism?

If you have a lot of headache when you wake up or during the day, you feel pain in your jaw when chewing food, they can be symptoms of bruxism. Ear pain, fractured, chipped teeth and tooth sensitivity can also indicate the condition.