How is teeth grinding (bruxism) diagnosed?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Teeth grinding is diagnosed using a thorough dental exam, which includes asking you about symptoms and taking a medical history. The dentist will examine you for tooth damage, fractures, sensitivity, and loss of dental restorations (like missing or loose crowns). If teeth grinding is suspected, a dentist will ask questions to find an underlying cause. These questions will be about your medications, whether you consume alcohol or caffeinated drinks, and if your sleeping partner is awakened by your teeth grinding. A dentist will then find out the extent of your disorder. You'll be asked about jaw or face pain and tenderness. You may also undergo x-rays to find out if there is any hidden damage to teeth or jaw bones.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
In many cases, tooth grinding -- also known as bruxism -- is only diagnosed after problems occur. Watch the animation to learn how people who grind their teeth are identified.

Dentists typically diagnose bruxism by looking for the physical symptoms of the disorder, including excessive damage to the teeth and repeated failure of dental appliances like crowns as well as pain in the joint. X-rays can help reveal underlying damage to the bones, teeth and tissues of the face and mouth. Several visits may be needed to diagnose bruxism, since the dentist will need to observe the continuing effects of the disorder before making a final diagnosis.

Teeth grinding (bruxism) is usually best diagnosed by a dentist or another health care provider. Bruxism has many causes, which include stress or anxiety, sleep disorders, an abnormal bite or teeth that are missing or crooked. If you’re concerned about teeth grinding, ask your dentist about the potential causes and, if necessary, the possible solutions.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.