Sleep Education

American Academy of Sleep Medicine 

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Bruxism – Symptoms & Risk Factors


The following are signs of bruxism:
  • Tooth pain
  • Jaw muscle pain
  • Mouth and facial pain
  • Limited jaw movement
  • Damaged or worn teeth
  • Sore gums
  • Headaches
You may not know that you have it unless a family member or bed partner hears the noise. The rate of bruxism seems to be highest in children. About 14% to 17% of children have it. It can begin as soon as a child’s upper and lower teeth have come through the gums. Around one third of children with bruxism will still have it when they are adults. About 8% of young to middle-aged adults have it. The rate continues to decrease with age.

Some people may have it every night for most of their lives. Dentures that are often used in the elderly may dampen the sound of grinding. This can keep the bruxism from being detected. It seems to affect men and women at the same rate. It does tend to occur in families. From 20% to 50% of people with bruxism have at least one family member with a history of grinding his or her teeth.

Risk Factors

Your personality type can raise your chance of having bruxism. People who are highly motivated and driven tend to have a higher rate of it. It can also be caused by stress and anxiety. This may be due to a life event or pressure at school or work.

The use of cigarettes or caffeine before sleep may increase tooth grinding.

Secondary sleep related bruxism is often found in children with cerebral palsy and those who are developmentally disabled.

How do I know if I have it?
  1. Do you grind or clench your teeth while you sleep?
  2. Do you have one or more of the following signs?
    • Damage or wear to the teeth
    • Jaw discomfort, fatigue, or pain
    • A locked jaw when you wake up

If you answered yes to these questions, then you might have sleep related bruxism.

It is also important to know if there is something else that is causing your sleep problems. They may be a result of one of the following:

    • Another sleep disorder
    • A medical condition
    • Medication use
    • A mental health disorder
    • Substance abuse