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DiseasesDB 29661
MedlinePlus 001413

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List of terms related to Bruxism

Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1] ; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Aditya Ganti M.B.B.S. [2]


Bruxism is defined as repeated involuntary grinding and clenching of teeth which can occur either diurnal or nocturnally. In 1907, Marie Pielkiewics coined the French term 'La Bruxomanie" for bruxism. Bruxism can be classified into awake bruxism and sleep bruxism based on the physiological sleep status of the individual. The etiology of bruxism can be categorized into three groups:psychosocial factors, peripheral factors, and pathophysiological factors. Multifactorial etiology causes involving brain neurotransmitters or basal ganglia. Bruxism affects men and women equally. Factors associated with an increased risk of bruxism include obstructive sleep apnea, alcohol abuse, caffeine intake, smoking, and anxiety. The symptoms of bruxism usually develop in the first decade of life, and start with the appearance of the first primary upper and lower anterior teeth. Common complications of bruxism are tooth wear, and tooth hypersensitivity. Bruxism is primarily diagnosed based on the clinical presentation. History of complaints of disturbance from the clicking or grating sound by the accompanied partners. The most common symptoms of bruxism include involuntary rhythmic contractions of the masticator muscles during sleep. Removal of any offending agent responsible for bruxism is the primary step in the management. Surgery is the mainstay of treatment in the management of bruxism.

Historical Perspective

  • In 1907, Marie Pielkiewics coined the French term 'La Bruxomanie" for bruxism. [1]
  • In 1931, Frohman first coined the English term bruxism.


Bruxism can be classified into awake bruxism and sleep bruxism based on the physiological sleep status of the individual.[2][3]

Awake Bruxism/Diurnal Bruxism Sleep Bruxism/Nocturnal Bruxism
Day Time /Awake Sleep
Semi-Voluntary Stereotyped
Clenching predominant Teeth grinding
American Academy of Orofacial Pain (2008) Diurnal or nocturnal parafunctional activity including clenching, bracing, gnashing, and grinding of the teeth. I
The Academy of Prosthodontics (2005)
  • 1. The parafunctional grinding of teeth.
  • 2. An oral habit consisting of involuntary rhythmic or spasmodic non-functional gnashing, grinding or clenching of teeth, in other than chewing movements of the mandible, which may lead to occlusal trauma – called also tooth grinding, occlusal neurosis
The International Classification of Sleep Disorders (2005) Sleep-related bruxism is an oral activity characterized by grinding or clenching of the teeth during sleep, usually associated with sleep arousals.


The etiology of bruxism can be categorized into three groups: psychosocial factors, peripheral factors, and pathophysiological factors.[3]

Etiology of Bruxism
Psychological Common psychological factors responsible for bruxism include:


  • Bruxism is caused by the activation of reflexive chewing activity[4]
  • Chewing is a neuromuscular activity that is controlled by the reflex nerve pathways.
  • During sleep, the reflex part is active while the higher control is inactive, resulting in bruxism.
  • As stated, bruxism is considered to have multifactorial etiology. Multifactorial etiology causes involving brain neurotransmitters or basal ganglia.
  • Pathophysiological Factors
    • As bruxism often occurs during sleep, the physiology of sleep has been studied extensively, especially the ‘arousal response’, in search of possible causes of a disorder.[4]
    • Arousal response is a sudden change in the depth of the sleep during which the individual either arrives in the lighter sleep stage or actually wakes up.
    • Such a response is accompanied by gross body movements, increased heart rate, respiratory changes, and increased muscle activity.
    • It is derived that disturbances in the central neurotransmitter system may be involved in the etiology of bruxism.
    • It is hypothesized that the direct and indirect pathways of the basal ganglion, a group of five subcortical nuclei that are involved in the coordination of movements, is disturbed in bruxer.
    • The direct output pathway goes directly from the stratum to the thalamus from where afferent signals project to the cerebral cortex. The indirect pathway, on the other hand, passes by several other nuclei before reaching it to the thalamus.
    • If there is an imbalance between the pathways, movement disorder results like Parkinson’s disease.
    • The imbalance occurs with the disturbances in the dopamine-mediated transmission of an action potential. In the case of bruxism there may be an imbalance in both pathways.
    • Acute use of dopamine precursors like L-dopa inhibits bruxism activity and chronic long-term use of l-dopa results in increased bruxism activity. SSRTs (serotonin reuptake inhibitors), which exert an indirect influence on the dopaminergic system, may cause bruxism after long-term use.
    • Amphetamine, which increases the dopamine concentration by facilitating its release has been observed to increase bruxism.
    • Nicotine stimulates central dopaminergic activities, which might explain the finding that cigarette smokers report bruxism two times more than the nonsmokers.
  • Psychosocial Factors
    • There is no proper description of conclusive nature of psychological factors role in bruxism because of the absence of large scale longitudinal trials.

Associated Factors

Epidemiology and Demographics

Bruxism often occurs during sleep and can even occur during short naps. Bruxism is one of the most common sleep disorders: 30 to 40 million Americans grind their teeth during sleep.



  • Bruxism commonly affects individuals younger than 6 years of age and its incidence declines as age increases.


There is insufficient evidence to recommend routine screening for bruxism.

Risk Factors

Factors associated with an increased risk of bruxism include:

Natural History, Complications and Prognosis

Natural History


Common complications of bruxism are:


Diagnostic study of choice

Bruxism is primarily diagnosed based on the clinical presentation.

  • History of tooth grinding during sleep
  • Confirmation by parents or bed partners.


  • History of complaints of disturbance from the clicking or grating sound by the accompanied partners.


The most common symptoms of bruxism include:[11]

Physical Examination

Patients with bruxism usually appear normal.

Laboratory Findings

There are no diagnostic laboratory findings associated with bruxism.


There are no ECGfindings associated with bruxism.


There are no x-ray findings associated with bruxism.

Echocardiography or Ultrasound

There are no echocardiography/ultrasound findings associated with bruxism .

CT scan

There are no CT scan findings associated with bruxism.


There are no MRI findings associated with bruxism.

Other Imaging Findings

There are no other imaging findings associated with bruxism.

Other Diagnostic Studies

There are no other diagnostic studies associated with bruxism.


Medical Therapy

  • Removal of any offending agent responsible for bruxism is the primary step in management.[11][12][13]
  • The wait-and-see approach is recommended in cases with medically induced bruxism, as spontaneous remission is ensured with the cessation of the offending agent.
  • Pharmacotherapy mainly concentrated to alleviate symptoms
  • Buspirone and Gabapentin are the two recommended medications to manage bruxism
    • Preferred regimen 1 : Buspirone 15 to 20 mg/day PO q12.
    • Preferred regimen 2: Gabapentin 100 to 300 mg PO q24


Surgery is the mainstay of treatment in the management of bruxism.


The treatment of bruxism is indicated when there are any of these possible consequences:[11][12]


  1. Shetty S, Pitti V, Satish Babu CL, Surendra Kumar GP, Deepthi BC (September 2010). "Bruxism: a literature review". J Indian Prosthodont Soc. 10 (3): 141–8. doi:10.1007/s13191-011-0041-5. PMC 3081266. PMID 21886404.
  2. Thorpy MJ (October 2012). "Classification of sleep disorders". Neurotherapeutics. 9 (4): 687–701. doi:10.1007/s13311-012-0145-6. PMC 3480567. PMID 22976557.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Bader G, Lavigne G (February 2000). "Sleep bruxism; an overview of an oromandibular sleep movement disorder. REVIEW ARTICLE". Sleep Med Rev. 4 (1): 27–43. doi:10.1053/smrv.1999.0070. PMID 12531159.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Lavigne GJ, Khoury S, Abe S, Yamaguchi T, Raphael K (July 2008). "Bruxism physiology and pathology: an overview for clinicians". J Oral Rehabil. 35 (7): 476–94. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2842.2008.01881.x. PMID 18557915.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Maurice M. Ohayon, MD, DSc, PhD; Kasey K. Li, DDS, MD and Christian Guilleminault, MD: "Risk Factors for Sleep Bruxism in the General Population";Stanford University School of Medicine, Sleep Disorders Center, Stanford, CA;
  6. Y. Kobayashi, M. Yokoyama, H. Shiga, and N. Namba: 1198 Sleep Condition and Bruxism in Bruxist, Nippon Dental University, Tokyo, Japan
  7. Oksenberg A, Arons E.: "Sleep bruxism related to obstructive sleep apnea: the effect of continuous positive airway pressure.";Sleep Disorders Unit, Loewenstein Hospital-Rehabilitation Center, P.O. Box 3, Raanana, Israel
  8. Ng DK, Kwok KL, Poon G, Chau KW "Habitual snoring and sleep bruxism in a paediatric outpatient population in Hong Kong." Department of Paediatrics, Kwong Wah Hospital, Waterloo Road, Hong Kong, SAR China.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Winocur E, Gavish A, Voikovitch M, Emodi-Perlman A, Eli I: "Drugs and bruxism: a critical review.";Department of Occlusion and Behavioral Sciences, Maurice and Gabriela Goldschleger, School of Dental Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel.
  10. Bruxism/Teeth grinding -
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Macedo, Cristiane R; Macedo, Elizeu C; Torloni, Maria R; Silva, Ademir B; Prado, Gilmar F; Macedo, Cristiane R (2014). "Pharmacotherapy for sleep bruxism". doi:10.1002/14651858.CD005578.pub2.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Ommerborn MA, Taghavi J, Singh P, Handschel J, Depprich RA, Raab WH (March 2011). "Therapies most frequently used for the management of bruxism by a sample of German dentists". J Prosthet Dent. 105 (3): 194–202. doi:10.1016/S0022-3913(11)60029-2. PMID 21356412.
  13. Huynh N, Manzini C, Rompré PH, Lavigne GJ (October 2007). "Weighing the potential effectiveness of various treatments for sleep bruxism". J Can Dent Assoc. 73 (8): 727–30. PMID 17949541.

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