What is bruxism?

Bruxism consists of the involuntary habit of clenching and grinding the teeth without any functional purpose (masticatory), as well as moving them sideways.

People who have bruxism strongly press their upper teeth against the lower ones and move them back and forth and side to side. Most of the time, this is done unconsciously, causing, among other effects, wear of the teeth.

People with bruxism may clench and grind their teeth while sleeping (nocturnal bruxism) or while awake (daytime bruxism).

Causes of bruxism

There are different causes of bruxism. It is mostly caused by triggers that are related to stress management, anger or frustration.

In a smaller proportion, bruxism is a result of physical factors such as misalignment of the teeth or dental prostheses that do not fit properly. In addition, bruxism is associated with sleep disorders and even certain ailments.

Consequences or symptoms of bruxism

Clenching or grinding your teeth can cause various problems:

In the teeth

  • Wear of the dental pieces. By rubbing the upper teeth with the lower ones, there is a wear of the hard structures of the tooth that in the long term causes their disruption.
  • The teeth move and malocclusion occurs: the force that is exerted, either by pressure, by movement or both, causes the teeth to change their position over time due to damage to the supporting bone.
  • Mobility of the dental pieces: The permanent overload of bruxism can damage the bone and the gums causing the teeth to become loose.

In the muscles and joints

  • Muscle pain: The tension exerted by bruxism does not allow the muscles to relax; painful hardening of the muscles is formed.
  • Temporomandibular joint pain: Tension and movement also affect the joints.


In cases of severe bruxism, the forces that are generated can cause tension in the head and neck area, as well as face and headache pain.

Sometimes myofascial pain, in the area around the ear, can be confused with ear pain.

How do I know if I suffer from bruxism?

The first indication is to determine if you suffer from any of the consequences mentioned above.

The second is to request an appointment and have a specialist determine if you have bruxism.

before bruxism pacient
fotografía de una dentadura después de haberse sometido a una Rehabilitación Completa

Bruxism treatment in Costa Rica

Even though the main causes of bruxism are not of dental origin, the manifestations are at the dental level.

The treatment works to reduce dental injuries, permanent damage to the jaw and pain reduction, but is not a solution of the causes.

Patients are advised to wear a splint to prevent damage from grinding.

In severe cases, tooth wear that causes discomfort and affects chewing can be corrected with dental crowns.

Dental splint for sleeping

People with bruxism are advised to wear an offloading splint, also called a bite plane or mouth guard.

The bruxism splint is made for each patient in different materials depending on the degree of bruxism the person exhibits. In mild cases, a soft silicone protector or splint is made. In severe cases, the splint is made of acrylic.

During a few days of using the splint, jaw pain, headache or pain in the ear area tends to be eliminated. Other discomforts that may have appeared due to jaw muscle contracture should be eliminated as well.

These devices alleviate the manifestations, but they do not solve the problem. Thus, it is imperative that the causes of bruxism be addressed so that the symptoms do not reappear.

Visit us, at Clínica Gil Dental. We can help you if you suffer from Bruxism at our clinics in San Pedro or Escazú.

dental splint for sleeping

What factors increase the risk of developing Bruxism?

  1. Stress: One of the most important risk factors is the increase in anxiety or stress that can cause teeth grinding. Anger and frustration are otger factors.
  2. Age: Bruxism is common in young children, but usually disappears in adulthood.
  3. Personality type: Having an aggressive, competitive or hyperactive personality type can increase the risk of bruxism.
  4. Medicines and other substances: Bruxism can be a rare side effect of some psychiatric medications, such as antidepressants. Smoking tobacco, drinking caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, or using recreational drugs can increase the risk of bruxism.
  5. Family members with bruxism: Nocturnal bruxism usually runs in families. If you have bruxism, it is possible that other members of your family also have it or have had it.