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Teeth Grinding or Bruxism

Specialists in: Oral Rehabilitation, Dental Implants, Aesthetic Dentistry, Orthodontics, Maxillofacial Orthopedics,

Periodontics and Endodontics or Canal Treatment.

Demystifying the Entity

Who among us has not heard the term “teeth grinding”?  How many of us clench or grind our teeth?  Is it a disease? or Will the neighbor be right and my son has worms? Well, we will briefly try to explain to you what we currently think of teeth grinding or bruxism.

First of all, it is important that you know the dental definition of this entity:


  • Parafunctional habit of grinding teeth.

  • Oral habit of involuntary grinding, clenching or crunching of the teeth, carried out in a rhythmic or spasmodic manner and that differs from the normal movements of the jaw in the chewing cycle. This habit leads to occlusal trauma (trauma, self-limiting or progressive that damages the supporting tissues of a dental piece.” (1)

It is important that you pay attention to:

  • Bruxism is involuntary

  • The movements that are made are not part of the normal chewing pattern and

  • Causes trauma to the teeth.

Teeth grinding is classified today as an entity that appears in a person regardless of age, sex or state of health. It is considered as one of the normal and desired functions of the human masticatory organ (2), just as it is: speaking, chewing, yawning, laughing, etc. Therefore, we should not be alarmed if this condition appears in us or in our young children or adolescents. It's not a disease and we don't have worms either!

We have to accept that we have gone from living in calm and orderly environments and cities, to more confusing and insecure environments where we leave very early to work and return home late, dealing with traffic is impossible, children sleeping on a bus to getting to school, insecurity on the streets, depressing news, work pressures, pressures of a consumer society, a sick close relative, university, divorce and a long etcetera...

Daily life carries a significant load of stress that affects us. Consciously and unconsciously we carry with us a heavy load of current and old problems, our own and/or inherited and that we have not wanted or have not been able to solve. It is precisely there where our mouth and teeth appear since, by adapting to our new environment, the "human chewing organ" adopted a new function that is to serve as an escape valve to those pressures that affect us; the human body adapts and defends itself with bruxism or clenching of teeth. (2)

But then, should we solve or suppress bruxism?

I'll tell you this way: Are you aware  of how many emotions we express through our mouths? I honestly think not.

Through the mouth and the gastro-intestinal system in general, we express many emotions: laughing, making faces, shouting, whistling, we feel butterflies in our stomach, our stomach hurts when we are nervous, therefore, grinding our teeth is considered today a normal function of our mouth and should not be repressed or tried to solve.

So what should I do?

The same thing you do when you see a cloudy sky and take your umbrella with you… get ready!

Dentists, especially orthodontists and oral rehabilitators, can prepare your mouth to receive that extra load. We prepare it to serve as an "escape valve", we can align and position your teeth so that:

  • Do not suffer from occlusal trauma,

  • There is no premature wear

  • Do not run the risk of pulp death and/or unnecessary root canal treatment,

  • The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) does not suffer excessive loads, avoiding, for example, TMJ osteoarthritis.


What therapies do dentists do so that in the long term, my mouth and my teeth work well?

  • The therapies are summarized in the 3 P's:

1. Professional:

Orthodontics: The objective is to align and order the teeth in such a way that they work more efficiently both in chewing and in bruxism. In Dentis Guatemala, the person in charge of Orthodontics and Maxillary Orthopedics is Dr. Virginia Figueroa, email:

Dental guards or occlusal guards: which are used before and/or after correctly aligning the teeth and are used in active periods of bruxism. They are made to measure for each patient in instruments called articulators, which are programmed for each patient, and which serve as simulators of the oral environment of each patient; that is, we individualize the cases because we are aware that you and your mouth are unique in the world. The dental protectors must be made of an extremely rigid material so that they last between 2 and 4 years and must be made for each patient by a professional in Cranio-Maxillary Dysfunction, in this case Dr. Diego Estrada Fión, email:

2. Personal:

The patient must alone or with help, seek and find the situations that are causing stressful situations, so that they can consciously handle, assimilate and resolve them. In most cases we recommend that you consult a professional psychologist or psychiatrist.

3. Pills:

We do not recommend this option, although we do use it in cases where there is exacerbated muscle pain, therefore, we only use it for a few days.

Truths about bruxism:

  1. It is normal in children of pre-school age. Bruxism promotes the correct development of the Temporomandibular Joint.

  2. The child should not be sensitive to any type of food as a result of bruxism.

  3. Bruxism is not directly related to intestinal parasites.

  4. Bruxism can appear and disappear suddenly, it depends a lot on the emotional factor and personality of the person.

  5. Having crooked teeth does not condition a patient to have bruxism. But if a patient with bruxism has crooked teeth, these teeth are more prone to crown and/or root fractures and even pulp (nerve) deaths.

  6. Bruxism can trigger a Cranio-Maxillary Dysfunction, especially in the muscles of the masticatory organ.

  7. Bruxism can trigger symptoms similar to a hearing problem.

  8. A dentist cannot and should not suppress bruxism, the treating professional should focus on controlling it.

  9. There is some evidence that indicates that bruxism could have a hereditary component, although the exact way of transmission is not known, so it is most likely a learned behavior. For example, if one of the parents is a procrastinator (tendency to defer or postpone decisions) and this causes bruxism, the child will probably learn the same behavior that will lead to bruxism in the same way. (3)


(1) The glossary of Prosthodontic terms. The Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry

(2) Slavicek, Rudolf. (2006). Chapter 3 Functions. In The chewing organ (pp. 219-303). Klosterneuburg, Austria: GAMMA  Medizinisch-wissenschaftlicheFortbildungs-GmbH.

(3) Lobbezoo F, et al. (2014). 'Ooktandenknarsen is erfelijk'. ACTA Quality Practice, Netherlands.

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