Problems That Bruxism Can Cause

Tmj Dentist Coral Gables, FL

The condition bruxism is commonly seen in dental patients. Bruxism is the medical term that is used to describe grinding and clenching of the teeth together. It is most often done while a patient is sleeping, making it more difficult to control. The root cause of teeth grinding is still not fully understood but is thought to be connected to airway issues such as sleep apnea, as well as dental problems such as misalignments of the teeth and jaw. Stress and anxiety may also be a factor in the development of the condition.  

Complications of bruxism

Grinding and clenching of the teeth can cause dental complications if left untreated. These are a few problems that can occur.

Cracked or broken teeth 

The constant grinding back and forth of the teeth can result in a crack or break in one or multiple teeth. The amount of pressure and force of clenching the teeth together makes them highly susceptible to damage. Tiny cracks can cause discoloring of the teeth.

Worn enamel 

Enamel, which is the mineralized hard substance that protects the teeth, can become worn and damaged from teeth grinding. If the enamel is destroyed, teeth are more vulnerable to decay, infection and gum disease. The teeth can become painfully sensitive as well. Enamel cannot grow back, meaning this damage is irreversible. Depending on the severity of enamel loss, remineralization and dental bonding can help restore some mineral content. 


It is common for headaches to occur in patients with bruxism. This is due to the constant teeth grinding and clenching of the jaw causing tense muscles in the face and neck.

Muscle pain 

The condition typically results in the muscles of the jaw being clenched tightly. This can cause the muscles to be sore and painful and may make chewing difficult. A sore jaw upon waking is one of the main signs of teeth grinding in dental patients who are otherwise unaware that they have the condition.

Receding gums 

Teeth grinding over long periods of time can cause the gums to recede. Receding gums can cause tooth sensitivity to cold and hot temperatures. Gum recession can also cause teeth to become loose. 

Temporomandibular joint disorders 

The temporomandibular joint that attaches the jaw to the bottom part of the skull has muscles nearby that help the mouth to open and close. When these joints move improperly or are misaligned, it results in a condition known as temporomandibular joint disorder, commonly referred to as TMD or TMJ. Teeth grinding can cause TMD or worsen it for patients who already have the condition. TMD results in jaw pain and difficulty chewing and often causes a clicking sound with movement of the jaw muscles.


While bruxism is not serious, it can cause dental complications and permanent damage if left untreated. A dentist can help with a customized mouth guard or suggest other techniques such as stress management to prevent teeth grinding and help patients protect their smiles.

Request an appointment here: or call Gables Exceptional Dentistry at (305) 203-4132 for an appointment in our Coral Gables office.

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