Teeth Clenching and Jaw Joint


How is teeth clenching treated? Teeth clenching, medically known as bruxism, is the habit of unconsciously clenching and grinding the teeth. It is often associated with stress and anxiety and is more common at night during sleep. Long-term effects of clenching include tooth wear, tooth sensitivity and jaw pain.

The jaw joint is the mobile connection between the skull and lower jaw and is involved in basic functions such as speech and chewing.

Constant clenching can lead to jaw joint disorders (TMJ). TMJ symptoms include jaw pain, locking and discomfort when chewing. Teeth clenching and jaw joint problems should be evaluated by dentists and maxillofacial surgeons and appropriate treatment methods should be determined.

Treatment methods include the use of night plates, stress management techniques and surgical interventions when necessary. These conditions affect both dental health and overall quality of life. 

What are the Causes of Bruxism?

There can be various causes of clenching (bruxism) and these causes are often linked to physical, psychological and lifestyle factors. Here are common causes of clenching:

  1. Stress and Anxiety: One of the most common causes occurs in situations of particularly intense stress and anxiety. During stressful periods, the tendency to unconsciously clench teeth may increase.
  2. Sleep Disorders: Sleep disorders, such as sleep breathing disorders, have been associated with clenching. Sleep clenching is more common during the REM sleep cycle.
  3. Abnormal Bite (Occlusion) and Tooth Irregularities: Improper alignment of the teeth or an abnormal bite can trigger clenching behavior.
  4. Habits and Lifestyle: Some habits, such as clenching the teeth while thinking or concentrating, can lead to bruxism. Alcohol, caffeine and smoking can also increase the risk.
  5. Psychiatric Medications: Some antidepressants and psychiatric medications can increase the risk of bruxism.
  6. Neurological Disorders: Some neurological diseases or movement disorders, such as Parkinson's disease, have been associated with clenching behavior.
  7. Genetic Predisposition: This condition may be more common in people with a family history of clenching.
  8. Age and Gender: It is more common in children and young adults. In addition, some studies show that women experience bruxism more often than men.

The causes of teeth clenching can vary from person to person and can sometimes be caused by the interaction of multiple factors. Therefore, it is important to consult a health professional to determine the exact cause of bruxism and receive appropriate treatment.

How is clenching treated?

  1. Night Plates or Splints: These mouth guards, custom-made by a dentist, are used to protect the teeth during sleep and reduce the effects of clenching. These devices reduce pressure on the teeth and jaw joints by preventing the teeth from touching each other.
  2. Stress Management and Behavioral Changes: Techniques to reduce stress and anxiety can play an important role in preventing clenching. Techniques such as yoga, meditation, exercise and time management can be effective in reducing stress.
  3. Physiotherapy: Physiotherapy treatments can be useful to relax the jaw muscles, reduce pain and improve jaw function.
  4. Dental Treatments: If there are abnormal occlusion or dental irregularities, orthodontic treatment or other dental treatments can correct the causes of bruxism.
  5. Medication: In some cases, muscle relaxants, painkillers or anti-anxiety medications may be used temporarily. However, these medications are usually suitable for short-term use and long-term use is not recommended.
  6. Lifestyle Changes: Lifestyle changes such as reducing alcohol and caffeine consumption, not smoking and improving sleep patterns can also be beneficial.
  7. Mindfulness and Habit Change: It is important to recognize the habit of clenching during daylight hours and make a conscious effort to stop it.
  8. Alternative Treatments: Alternative treatments such as acupuncture or biofeedback can be helpful for some patients.

The treatment of clenching is individualized and should be guided by a health professional. If you are experiencing symptoms of clenching, the best approach is to consult a dentist or maxillofacial surgeon. These specialists will determine the most appropriate treatment plan for your condition.

Are the Results of Bruxism Treatment Permanent?

The results of treatment for teeth clenching (bruxism) can vary depending on the severity of the condition, the underlying causes and the individual's response to treatment. Treatment is usually focused on managing symptoms and in some cases, especially when intervened early, can lead to lasting improvements. However, as long as the underlying causes of clenching persist, it is possible for symptoms to recur. Here are some key points on treatment outcomes:

  1. Night Trays and Splints: These devices protect the teeth and relax the jaw muscles, but do not treat underlying causes such as stress or anxiety. When used regularly, they can be effective in preventing tooth wear and jaw pain.
  2. Stress Management: Stress and anxiety management techniques can help reduce stress, which is one of the main causes of bruxism. The effectiveness of these techniques depends on how much the individual adheres to these methods.
  3. Behavioral Changes and Habits: Being aware of the habit of clenching and taking control of it can help reduce symptoms in the long run. However, these changes may need to be implemented on an ongoing basis.
  4. Orthodontic and Dental Treatments: If the cause of clenching is misalignment of the teeth or bite problems, correcting these issues can lead to permanent improvement.
  5. Medication: Medications often offer temporary solutions and are usually not a permanent solution. Long-term use of medication can cause side effects.
  6. Lifestyle Changes: Lifestyle changes such as reducing alcohol and caffeine consumption and quitting smoking can prevent the recurrence of bruxism.
  7. Response to Treatment: Each individual may respond differently to treatment. Some people respond quickly and effectively to treatment, while others may see less pronounced results.

As a result, the durability of treatment for clenching depends largely on individual factors and the management of the underlying causes. The treatment process is often focused on managing symptoms and requires a sustained effort. To achieve lasting results, it is important to tailor the treatment plan to individual needs and make lifestyle changes as needed.

How is Jaw Joint Disorder Treated?

TMJ disorder (temporomandibular joint disorder, TMD) is a condition that causes pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint and surrounding muscles. Treatment is usually aimed at relieving symptoms and improving jaw function. Here are some common methods used to treat TMD:

  • Pain Management: Over-the-counter painkillers (such as NSAIDs) can be used to relieve pain and inflammation.
  • Hot and Cold Compresses: Applying a hot or cold compress to the painful area can relieve pain and muscle tension.
  • Dental appliances: Specialized mouth guards, such as night guards or splints, can reduce pressure on the jaw joint by preventing clenching and grinding of the teeth.
  • Physiotherapy: Physiotherapy exercises may be recommended to improve jaw movements, reduce muscle tension and support jaw function.
  • Stress Management and Behavioral Therapy: Since stress is a common cause of jaw joint disorder, stress management techniques and behavioral therapy may be beneficial.
  • Dietary Changes: To reduce the load on the jaw joints during chewing, it is recommended to follow a soft diet and avoid hard, hard-to-chew foods.
  • Jaw Exercises: Special exercises can be done to improve jaw mobility and flexibility.
  • Alternative Treatments: Alternative treatments such as acupuncture or biofeedback may be effective for some patients.
  • Surgical Intervention: In very rare cases and when other treatment methods are not effective, surgical intervention may be necessary.


Treatment of jaw joint disorder is individualized and should be guided by a health professional. If you are experiencing symptoms of jaw joint disorder, the best approach is to consult a dentist, maxillofacial surgeon or other appropriate health professional. These specialists will determine the most appropriate treatment plan for your condition.

Are the results of jaw joint treatment permanent?

The permanence of the results of treatment for jaw joint disorder (temporomandibular joint disorder, TMD) can vary depending on many factors. These factors include the severity of the patient's condition, underlying causes, compliance with treatment and individual health status. Here are some highlights on the outcomes of jaw joint treatment:

  1. Severity and Duration of Symptoms: Mild and short-lasting symptoms usually have better treatment outcomes. Prolonged or severe cases may require more complex and prolonged treatment.
  2. Treatment Adherence: How well patients adhere to the treatment plan plays an important role in the durability of results. For example, recommendations such as the use of night plates, exercises and dietary changes need to be followed regularly.
  3. Underlying Causes: Managing the underlying causes of jaw joint disorder affects the effectiveness and durability of treatment. For example, stress management or resolving tooth alignment issues can contribute to more lasting results.
  4. Lifestyle Changes: Lifestyle changes such as reducing stress, improving sleep quality and healthy eating habits can support the durability of treatment outcomes.
  5. Surgical Interventions: In cases requiring surgical intervention, the durability of the results depends on the type of surgery and the patient's recovery process. Surgical interventions are usually considered a last resort for more serious cases.
  6. Personal Health Status: The patient's general state of health and other health problems can also affect treatment outcomes.

In general, treatment of jaw joint disorder aims to manage symptoms and improve quality of life. In some cases, treatment can provide permanent relief, while in other cases regular treatment and lifestyle changes may be required. For lasting treatment results, it is important that patients adhere to the treatment plan and that the underlying causes are effectively addressed. If you are experiencing symptoms of jaw joint disorder, it is recommended to consult a healthcare professional for the best treatment approach.

  • What are the causes of clenching?

    The most common causes of clenching include stress, anxiety, sleep disorders, abnormal biting patterns and side effects of certain psychiatric medications.

  • What are the symptoms of clenching?

    Common symptoms include sensitivity or pain in the teeth in the morning, stiffness in the jaw muscles, headaches and tooth wear.

  • What are the symptoms of jaw joint disorder?

    Symptoms of jaw joint disorder include jaw pain, discomfort when chewing or speaking, restricted jaw movements and noises in the jaw joint.

  • How are clenching and jaw joint disorders treated?

    Treatment methods include the use of a night guard, physiotherapy, stress management techniques, painkillers and, in some cases, surgery.

  • What is a night guard and how does it work?

    A night guard is a special mouth guard that is worn overnight to protect the teeth and relax the jaw muscles. It creates a barrier between the teeth and prevents them from rubbing against each other.

  • Can clenching and jaw joint disorders cause permanent damage?

    Yes, if left untreated for a long time, it can lead to permanent problems such as tooth wear, jaw joint damage and chronic pain.

  • How can clenching and jaw joint problems be alleviated at home?

    Reducing stress, adjusting biting habits, massaging the jaw muscles and warm/compress applications can be helpful.

  • What are the causes of jaw joint disorders?

    The causes of jaw joint disorders can include clenching, jaw trauma, arthritis and abnormal biting patterns.

  • Which doctor should I consult for clenching and jaw joint disorders?

    Dentists or maxillofacial surgeons are specialized health professionals and can determine the appropriate diagnosis and treatment methods.

  • Is teeth clenching normal in children?

    Yes, temporary clenching is common in children, especially during teething and growth periods. However, in persistent or severe cases, it may be helpful to see a pedodontist (pediatric dentist).

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