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Understandably, not too many people will immediately recognize or understand the word 'bruxism.' It's a scientific term that refers to a particular dental condition. The circumstances of the condition itself, however, are not as foreign as the term. In fact, it's quite common: grinding or clenching of the teeth.

This blog aims to better expound on bruxism so that you, the reader, can be fully informed.

Bruxism: What Is It?

Simply put, bruxism is when the upper and lower teeth forcefully grind or clench against each other. Face and jaw muscles alike contract considerably. In some people, it is a conscious habit; others do it in their sleep, or simply without full awareness in the moment.

Most people clench their teeth together and get a tight hold going. Others may take on a varied approach: moving the lower jaw forward and back or side to side in a grinding motion. Whichever direction it goes, this is still categorized as bruxism.

Left untreated, bruxism can lead to rather painful symptoms as well as permanent dental damage (jaw joints, gums, teeth).

The Causes of Bruxism

Bruxism has so many possible causes that people generally experience more than one regularly, with or without it. While knowledge of the root cause of bruxism can help a person's understanding, it should be noted that there is a singular treatment for bruxism regardless.

Bruxism Is Caused By Airway Constriction

A typical trigger for bruxism in people who are asleep is a constricted airway. When someone has this and has to deal with it accordingly, they may deal with upper airway resistance syndrome or obstructive sleep apnea. Both of those conditions lower blood oxygen levels considerably.

The moment the brain senses a drop in oxygen, it will attempt to physically open the airway through the lower jaw being pulled up and forward. Teeth also usually end up claimed together at this point. This reflex will lead to improved oxygen levels as the airway does, in fact, open.

Bruxism Is Caused By Jaw Misalignment

Grinding or clenching of teeth is done by some people when their jaws are not able to naturally line up properly. If anything, the grinding or clinching is an unconscious attempt to help the teeth actually fit together.

Bruxism Is Caused By Side Effects of Prescription Medication

Stronger medications used to manage ADHD can cause an involuntary clenching or grinding of the teeth for some people. People with existing risk factors for bruxism that take those medications will likely see a worse version down the line.

Communicating with a doctor about possible side effects of any prescribed medicine is a good rule of thumb to have.

Bruxism Is Caused By Stress

People that are particularly under high stress levels end up dealing with bruxism. They experience an increase in muscle tension throughout their bodies, including in the masseter muscles of the jaw, which may result in tenderness or pain.


Bruxism is when forceful grinding and chewing happens, whether unconsciously or not. When left untreated, it can lead to plenty of pain and even permanent damage. Causes of bruxism include stress and airway constriction.

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