Long Term Effects of Bruxism: Tooth Breakage and TMJD / TMJ


Bruxism is the continual clenching, gnashing, or grinding of teeth. Symptoms include headache, joint pain, sensitive teeth, chipping of teeth, breaking of teeth and complaints from family members. Dentist are more likely to see signs of bruxism than a patient will notice symptoms.[1]


Short term effects of bruxism include headache, jaw ache, earache, tight or stiff shoulders, mouth opening limitations, sleep disruption and inflamed gums. Long term effects of bruxism include tooth wear and breakage and Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJD or TMJ). [2]


Tooth breakage or wear occurs when teeth are constantly grinded or gnashed. Over time, teeth will become shorter and more sensitive. Treatment includes splints or mouth guards to protect the teeth while the patient sleeps. The patient may also require many dental procedures to correct damage caused by bruxism. Such procedures may include crowns, braces or dental shaping. Other treatment includes stress management, behavior therapy and biofeedback. Biofeedback uses monitoring and equipment to help the patient learn how to control their jaw muscles. Some medications may also be prescribed like muscle relaxants or botox. Muscle relaxants are not meant for long term use and botox is only suggested when bruxism is sever and other treatments have proves unsuccessful.[3]


Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJD) is mostly diagnosed by pain or tenderness of the jaw, pain in or around the ear, difficulty or discomfort while chewing, facial pain, and locking of the jaw joint.[4].


Therapy consists of:

  • Dental orthotics (i.e., TMJ splint, bite plate, anterior positioning appliance)
  • Orthopedic and Orthodontic (Braces)
  • Retraining oral and body posture
  • Myofascial Trigger Point Treatment
  • Acupuncture (needle and needless)
  • Electrical muscle stimulation (HV, pre-modulated and interferential current)
  • Ultrasound and Phonophoresis
  • Iontophoresis
  • Myofascial Trigger Point Injections
  • Spray and Stretch
  • Home care stretching and lifestyle modifications
  • Stress management


Other procedures include arthrocentesis, corticosteroid or botox injections, and jaw surgery. Arthrocentesis is the insertion of needles in the joint for the flow of fluids that remove inflammatory products or debris. Jaw surgery is only considered if there is a structural problem with the joint. [5]



  1. Bruxism (Teeth grinding): symptoms. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bruxism/basics/symptoms/con-20029395
  2. Effects of Bruxism. http://www.bruxism.org.uk/effects-of-bruxism.php
  3. Bruxism (Teeth grinding): Treatments and drugs. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bruxism/basics/treatment/con-20029395
  4. TMJ Disorders: Symptoms. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tmj/basics/symptoms/con-20043566
  5. TMJ Disorders: Treatments and drugs. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tmj/basics/treatment/con-20043566




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