The Rising Prevalence of Bruxism: Causes, Impacts, and Dental Solutions

The Rising Prevalence of Bruxism: Causes, Impacts, and Dental Solutions

Bruxism, a relatively unfamiliar term for many, has been increasing its prevalence at an alarming rate globally. It refers to the involuntary grinding or clenching of teeth, especially during sleep, leading to various dental and health issues if not addressed in time. It is necessary to scrutinize bruxism causes, its impacts on the affected, and the myriad of bruxism dental solutions available today.

The reasons behind bruxism aren’t fully understood yet, although multiple factors seem to play a role. Stress and anxiety often sit atop the list of bruxism causes, accounting for many cases. These two factors are increasingly common in our fast-paced society, where the daily pressures of work, family, and personal concerns weigh heavily. They disrupt normal sleep patterns and create tension, often leading to bruxism.

Sleep disorders are another potential cause of bruxism. Conditions like sleep apnea, where breathing briefly stops during sleep, or parasomnias, such as night terrors and talking during sleep, often correlate with bruxism. Neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease or medications like antidepressants are also recognized as potential bruxism causes.

Let us first explore some of the major causes of bruxism.

Causes of Bruxism

It’s essential to note that while the below mentioned are just a few major causes of bruxism, it’s often the interplay of multiple factors that lead to the condition. The cause may vary from person to person, so the treatment approach may also need to be individualized.

Stress and Anxiety

This is one of the most common causes of bruxism. High stress, worry, or anxiety levels can lead to increased tension in the jaw muscles, which can lead to teeth grinding or clenching, often during sleep.

Sleep Disorders

People with certain sleep-related disorders, such as sleep apnea (a condition characterized by abnormal breathing patterns during sleep), insomnia, and parasomnias (including sleep talking or sleepwalking), are at higher risk of developing bruxism.

Neurological Disorders

Diseases like Parkinson’s and Huntington’s can also cause bruxism as they affect the nervous system’s normal functioning, leading to involuntary movements, including teeth grinding.

Medication Side Effects

Certain types of medications, particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a type of antidepressant, can lead to bruxism.

Alcohol and Caffeine

High consumption of alcohol, caffeine, or other stimulants has been linked to an increased risk of bruxism. These substances can disrupt sleep patterns and stimulate the nervous system, contributing to teeth grinding.


Some research suggests that bruxism may have a hereditary component. If your parents or siblings have bruxism, you may be more likely to develop the condition.

Abnormal Bite and Misaligned Teeth

Dental problems such as an abnormal bite (the teeth do not meet correctly when the jaws are closed) or misaligned teeth can also cause bruxism. In such cases, grinding or clenching may be the body’s way of correcting these dental issues.

Impacts of Bruxism

Bruxism, or chronic grinding and clenching of the teeth, can significantly impact oral health and overall well-being. 

The impacts of bruxism can range from mild discomfort to severe dental damage and even extend to other areas of health. Here are 5-7 detailed impacts of bruxism:

Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMD)

Bruxism can place undue stress on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), the hinge-like joint connecting the jaw to the skull. Over time, this stress can result in TMD, causing symptoms such as jaw pain, difficulty opening and closing the mouth, and clicking or popping sounds during jaw movement.

Headaches and Earaches

Bruxism often leads to chronic headaches and earaches. The tension and pressure exerted on the muscles of the face and jaw during grinding can result in tension-type headaches. Furthermore, due to the proximity of the temporomandibular joint to the ear canal, bruxism-induced TMJ issues can cause referred ear pain.

Tooth Damage

This is one of the most immediate and visible effects of bruxism. Chronic grinding wears down the enamel, the protective outer layer of teeth, leading to increased sensitivity and susceptibility to cavities. In severe cases, bruxism can lead to fractured, loosened, or even loss of teeth.

Facial Pain and Changes

Chronic bruxism can lead to hypertrophy (enlargement) of the masseter muscles, the primary muscles used for chewing. This can result in a broadening of the jawline, altering facial aesthetics. The constant grinding and clenching can also lead to general facial pain and soreness.

Impaired Oral Function

In extreme cases, tooth damage, TMD, and facial pain can impair oral function. This can make it difficult to eat, speak, or perform other tasks that require mouth and jaw movement.

These impacts underline the importance of early detection and treatment of bruxism. By addressing the issue promptly, patients can prevent these effects and maintain their oral health and overall well-being.

Bruxism Dental Solutions

Several dental solutions are available for bruxism, ranging from protective devices to treatments and corrective procedures. 

Here are some of the key bruxism dental solutions:

Dental Correction Procedures

If misaligned teeth or an abnormal bite is causing your bruxism, your dentist may recommend orthodontic treatment to correct these issues. Orthodontic treatments such as braces or clear aligners can correct misalignment and bite problems, potentially reducing or eliminating bruxism. In cases of severe tooth damage caused by grinding, dental restorative procedures like crowns, bonding, or even implants may be necessary to repair and protect the teeth.

Dental Guards or Splints

One of the most common dental solutions for bruxism is using dental guards, also known as night guards or splints. These are custom-made by a dentist to fit your teeth perfectly. The guard is typically worn over the upper or lower teeth during sleep. It acts as a protective barrier between the upper and lower teeth, preventing them from grinding against each other. In addition to protecting the teeth from wear and tear, dental guards can also help alleviate jaw pain and discomfort caused by the tension and pressure of clenching.

Occlusal Adjustment

If an uneven bite causes bruxism, your dentist may recommend occlusal adjustment. This procedure involves reshaping the biting surfaces of the teeth to ensure that they meet properly when you close your mouth. This can help reduce the force exerted on the teeth and jaw during clenching or grinding, thus reducing the symptoms of bruxism.


The increasing prevalence of bruxism—an often overlooked yet increasingly common oral condition—raises significant health concerns beyond teeth grinding. As we’ve explored in this article, its causes are diverse, encompassing biological, psychological, and lifestyle factors, and its impacts extend far beyond the realm of dental health, potentially leading to broader health issues like temporomandibular disorders, headaches, and sleep disturbances.

Our dental clinic in Calgary plays a pivotal role in the early detection and treatment of Bruxism, offering solutions such as night guards, restorative dentistry, and even stress management education. 

With a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach and a commitment to public education, we aspire to stem the tide of this rising prevalence and minimize the negative impact of bruxism on our health and well-being.

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