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Bruxism: grinding and clenching teeth


1. What is bruxism?

Bruxism corresponds to a significant and uncontrolled increase in contact between the teeth without any functional purpose (chewing or swallowing).

It is characterised by


  • the untimely grinding of the lower teeth against the upper ones, and/or

  • continuous clenching of the jaws, i.e. the fact of contracting the mandatory muscles outside the required chewing action at mealtimes for example (parafunctional activity).

Bruxism occurs most often during sleep but can also exist during the day.

2. How to recognize bruxism?

The clinical signs induced by bruxism vary according to the duration and intensity of the forces exerted:

  • accelerated wear of the enamel up to the dentin and pulp

  • when the wear reaches the dental nerve, dental hypersensitivity to temperature changes (hot/cold) and acidic foods

  • fractured pieces of tooth

  • cracking of the temporomandibular joint

  • diffuse dental and/or muscle pain, facial and/or in the jaws, cheeks, temples

  • neck pain

  • headaches


3. What causes bruxism?

Bruxism is often caused by

  • abnormal occlusion: when the mouth is closed, the positioning of the upper and lower teeth is not correct,

  • anxiety / psychological suffering,

  • stress.

4. How to prevent and treat bruxism?

The dentist can only act on the consequences of bruxism, and this depends on the cause of the disorder.

In all cases, the dentist will take an impression of the upper and lower jaws, and will then prepare a resin mouthpiece. This will protect the teeth from uncontrolled grinding and clenching activities.

In the case of an abnormal bite, other complementary treatments can be implemented: 

  • selective grinding,

  • prosthesis,

  • orthodontic treatment.

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