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Teeth Clenching | Bruxism

What is Teeth Clenching?

Teeth clenching or teeth grinding (Bruxism) is a condition in which you clench or grind your teeth together during the day, or clench or grind them at night (sleep bruxism). Teeth clenching (Bruxism) is an unconscious habit.  Bruxism is a common sleep disorder. It occurs in approximately 15% of the population. Teeth clenching can be felt as headache

Causes of teeth clenching - Bruxism

Teeth clenching (Bruxism) is not completely understood.  Possible causes may include:

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Abnormal alignment of teeth
  • Sleep problems, including sleep apnea
  • Side effect of psychiatric medications, such as phenothiazines or certain antidepressants
  • Complication resulting from a disorder such as Huntington's disease or Parkinson's disease
  • Masseter muscle hypertrophy

How do you know if you have teeth clenching (bruxism)

Teeth clenching (Bruxism) generates extreme forces, which can result in many symptoms.

  1. Morning stiffness or jaw and face pain.
  2. Dull headache.
  3. Chipped or broken teeth.
  4. Worn front and back teeth.
  5. Loss of enamel at the necks of teeth (a fraction).
  6. Tooth sensitivity, especially to cold.






Diagnosis of teeth clenching (Bruxism)

Diagnosing bruxism requires a comlete exam of the teeth, TMJ, and jaw muscles. It also requires a home sleep test to detect the amount of hyperactivity of jaw muscles, especially the masster muscles. Since bruxism is a sleep disorder, it is important to determine if you have any other associated sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea. This significantly alters the treatment plan. 

Treatment of teeth clenching (Bruxism)

Treatment of teeth clenching usually starts with Stress management.  This may include professional counseling, exercise or meditation.

Dental treatment of Bruxism

Mouth guards (night guard or occlusal guard): a mouth guard separates the teeth and cushion them to prevent damage from teeth clenching. Occlusal guards may help prevent tooth damage, but have not been shown to reduce the actual bruxism habit.


Bite correction. Correcting the alignment of teeth may help reduce teeth clenching. This treatment may include occlusal adjustment, braces or oral surgery.

Treatment of teeth damage caused by teeth clenching (Bruxism). This may include fillings, reshaping teeth, crowns, and treatment of tooth sensitivity

Drug treatment of Bruxism  

Muscle relaxants. A muscle relaxant may be taken before bedtime, for a short period.

Botox injections. Botox injections may help some people with severe bruxism who do not respond to other treatments. Botox injectin into the masseter muscles achieves facial slimming, transforming a square face into a V-shaped feminine face. 

Important information about Botox injection for Bruxism:

  • Botox injection for Bruxism is a simple procedure that may take only 5 minutes. 
  • Botox is injected into the jaw muscles that cause teeth clenching (the masseter muscles on the sides of the jaw and the temporalis muscles on the sides of the head). 
  • Dr. Elseweifi usually starts with 15 units of Botox into the masseter muscles on each side. He then evaluates the patient after two weeks to decide if further treatment is required. 
  • Botox weakens the muscle and lessens the tight teeth clenching.   
  • Botox injection does not affect normal jaw functions such as eating, chewing or talking.  
  • Most patients feel the effect in about a week after the injection.
  • The effects of Botox injection last for 4-6 months.

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