Sleep Education

American Academy of Sleep Medicine 

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Bruxism – Diagnosis & Treatment


You should not be alarmed if you only grind your teeth from time to time. But regular tooth grinding can cause serious damage. Talk with a family doctor about your problem. Your doctor or a counselor can help you find ways to deal with the stress that may be causing the bruxism. You may also need to see a dentist if your tooth grinding is severe.

First, the doctor will need to know when your bruxism started. He or she will also want to know what else has been going on in your life. Share with your doctor about any sources of stress that you are dealing with. The doctor will need to know your complete medical history. Be sure to inform him or her of any past or present drug and medication use. Also tell your doctor if you have ever had any other sleep disorder.

Keep a sleep diary for two weeks. The sleep diary will help the doctor see your sleeping patterns. This information gives the doctor clues about what is causing your problem and how to correct it.

Your doctor may have you do an overnight sleep study, but this is rarely needed to detect bruxism alone. This study is called a polysomnogram. The polysomnogram charts your brain waves, heart beat, and breathing as you sleep. It also records how your arms and legs move. This will show if there are other disorders, such as sleep apnea, that are causing your sleep problems.

The best sleep study will also record your sleep on video. This will help show if you grind your teeth or do anything unusual during the study.


An oral appliance can be used to protect your teeth while you sleep. It is usually made of soft plastic and fits over your teeth like a mouth guard. Some are made so you can mold them at home to fit your mouth. You simply boil the device and then bite down to shape it to your mouth. Most of the time, however, you will need to go to a dentist for a proper fitting.

Stress often causes bruxism or makes it worse. You can make efforts to reduce or manage the stress in your life. This can help prevent bruxism and reduce the jaw pain that results from it.

There are many ways to handle stress. Self-help strategies are common. Relaxation training and biofeedback may also be helpful. These are types of cognitive behavioral therapy. A counselor or therapist may also be able to help you.