Bruxism: causes of pathology and methods of treatment in adults and children

Uncontrolled and unconscious instances of squeaking or grinding of teeth while sleeping or awake are called bruxism. This term has outdated synonyms: odonterism, the Carolini phenomenon. The disease occurs in adults and children. It is quite rare, and it is difficult to say who suffers from it more often.

He is diagnosed if such attacks happen to a person regularly and begin to cause inconvenience or lead to complications. On rare single episodes, as a rule, neither the person himself nor others pays attention, and they do not cause consequences.

Despite the seeming harmlessness, bruxism can not only cause psychological discomfort, but also negatively affect the condition of the teeth.

Symptoms of bruxism

At the onset of an episode, a person involuntarily tightens the chewing muscles, because of which the jaws can simply close tightly, or begin chewing movements. More often than not, teeth are clenched so tightly that a characteristic unpleasant grinding sound is produced.

Sometimes a person can do this because of nervous tension or anger – such a reaction, although it is involuntary, fits within the normal framework, since it happens rarely and has certain reasons.

In bruxism, the episodes occur every day, often more than once. In this case, do not expect the syndrome to go away on its own. When contacting a doctor, the disease can be diagnosed based on a number of symptoms.

  • 1
    Grinding teeth – established both during examination and on the basis of anamnesis. Difficulties can arise if it manifests itself in a dream. Then you will need to interview someone from the household. But in some cases, the sound is loud enough for a person to wake up from this.
  • 2
    Increased chewing muscles. It is rare, with a long-term current disease, but in this case it is insignificant.
  • 3
    Pain and a feeling of tension in the muscles, cheeks. May increase with food intake.
  • 4
    Pain in the head, especially in the temples, in the ears. They begin when the disease is severe and are usually not severe. They also develop due to constant muscle tension. The pain is mild to moderate, but uncomfortable and poorly controlled by analgesics.
  • 5
    Abrasion of enamel on teeth. Leads to the development of caries, tooth hypersensitivity and inability to eat normally.

Most of these symptoms appear as a consequence of prolonged untreated bruxism. This is due to the fact that a person notices him late or does not consult a doctor for a long time, since he does not know about the dangerous consequences of such involuntary movements. But triggering a state is dangerous. In this case, a person is at risk of chronic headaches, multiple caries, pulpitis and early tooth loss.

Forms of bruxism

Odonterism has two forms, easily distinguishable by clinic:

  • Daytime.
  • Night.

And the last form is the most common. Attacks of spasmodic contraction of muscles are much easier to happen when a person is asleep and cannot control himself.

Nocturnal and daytime seizures appear in the same way: tight jaw clenching and grinding, and sometimes teeth chattering. If the patient sleeps lightly or the sound is loud, he may wake up from this. In some cases, the grinding sound can also wake up the person sleeping next to it.

In objective studies of patients with bruxism during episodes, it was noted:

  • Increased blood pressure.
  • Increased heart rate.
  • Breathing acceleration.

Symptoms in children and adults are similar.

In the diurnal form of the disease, it also begins involuntarily, but anxiety or other unpleasant emotions can contribute to the onset of the attack. In this case, a person can stop it by willpower. Therefore, daytime bruxism is easier to treat.

Development reasons

The reasons that would reliably lead to the development of bruxism have not been identified. Previously, one could come across the opinion that this is a symptom of intestinal parasite damage, but it turned out to be erroneous.

There are factors that can trigger this condition:

  • 1
    Prolonged or severe stress, life difficulties.
  • 2
    Diseases of the psyche, neuroses, proceeding with increased emotional excitability.
  • 3
    Sleep pathologies: nightmares, somnambulism, snoring, enuresis in children.

In addition to a complete interview and a general examination, the doctor may prescribe a polysomnography – a study of brain activity during sleep. This is done to exclude the presence of foci of epilepsy in the brain.

Possible complications

Despite the fact that simple closing of the teeth does not immediately cause visible harm, with regular frequent attacks, it causes the development of complications that can significantly worsen life.

Launched bruxism threatens development:

  • 1
    Pathological abrasion of enamel, tooth hypersensitivity, caries. Clinical cases are known when the crown of a tooth in patients was ground off almost completely.
  • 2
    Loose teeth, gum disease, periodontitis.
  • 3
    Chronic pain in the chewing muscles, difficulty in biting and chewing food.
  • 4
    Episodes of respiratory arrest after an episode of nocturnal bruxism. Snoring is the most dangerous complication.

Disease in childhood

In children, the disease is noticed more often, since adults are more attentive to babies than to themselves. But in children, complications develop much less often, since bruxism often goes away with age. It also often happens that the symptoms are less pronounced than in adults, and their elimination does not require medical attention. Therefore, the treatment of children is possible with the use of light herbal sedatives.

Severe cases when a doctor’s intervention is necessary are very rare.

The reasons children begin to involuntarily grind their teeth are similar to those seen in adults. Children are even more prone to stress and harder to bear. Incorrect closure of the upper and lower teeth is also added, due to their uneven growth.

Another reason may be the habit of clenching the jaw tightly from pain or itching in the gums, which appeared in the child during the period of the eruption of the first teeth.

Parents need to see a doctor if grinding occurs several times a week and does not become less frequent. You also need to regularly take the child to the dentist in order to notice in time if damage to the enamel has begun.


Since there is no single cause for bruxism, during treatment they try to influence all possible triggering factors: mental and physiological. The duration and methods of treatment depend on the severity of the condition and whether complications have time to appear.

Mouth guard

These are special pads for the teeth, similar to those used by boxers. The insert is an effective remedy to prevent abrasion of enamel, loosening of roots and damage to the gums. They are usually inserted at night. During an attack, they prevent the jaws from closing, help relieve muscle spasms and relieve stress on the lower jaw joint.

Such constructions are made in dentistry on the basis of impressions from the patient’s jaws, so that they exactly fit the patient’s bite and do not interfere, but only with the help of a mouthguard, bruxism can rarely be cured, most often correction of the bite or mental state is required.

Correction of bite

If, after examining the patient, it became clear that the cause of the grinding was a pathologically altered bite, then the main efforts are directed to its correction. This is especially often used in the treatment of children. Braces or other orthodontic structures are placed. Such treatment takes time and in the first weeks may be accompanied by unpleasant sensations in the teeth, but it is necessary to preserve them.

Treatment by a psychotherapist or neurologist

If a person has been diagnosed with mental instability or neurological disorders, then referral to a specialist doctor is required. Treatment prescribed by doctors can be combined with the use of home sedatives – valerian, mint, motherwort.

Special exercises

There are methods of charging, self-massage, which relax the overstrained facial muscles, as well as the muscles of the shoulders and neck, which also suffer.

Warming up

Warm compresses can be used to relax the muscles on the recommendation of a doctor. For pain, apply cold, but with caution, since hypothermia will lead to increased spasms. You do not need to prescribe yourself the treatment yourself. All actions must be agreed with doctors.