What is Bruxism?


Bruxism describes excessive grinding of the teeth or clenching of the jaw which may occur during sleep (can also occur while awake).

Known as a sleep disorder due to its association with sleep disturbance and subsequent daytime tiredness, morning headaches, moderate to severe dental damage and jaw pain, this condition is also a common symptom of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea.  During an episode of stopping breathing, the jaw is briefly clenched to allow the tongue to contract and move away from the back of the throat.

You may not be aware that you are grinding your teeth while you are asleep.  Grinding sounds and noises are often first noticed by a bed partner.

The precise cause is unknown although studies have found links to factors such as, alcohol consumption, anxiety, caffeine, fatigue, sleep apnoea and stress.

Before any treatment is considered it is important to decide whether tooth grinding or clenching is occurring in association with Obstructive Sleep Apnoea or in an otherwise normal individual with normal sleep where emotional issues may be occurring.