Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

During regular dental exams, your dentist likely will check for physical signs of bruxism, such as:

  • Unusual wear and tear on your teeth
  • Continued breakdown of dental restorations, including loss of crowns
  • Tooth fractures
  • Tooth sensitivity

If you have any of these signs, your dentist will look for changes in your teeth and mouth over the next several visits to see if the process is progressive and to determine whether you need treatment.

If your dentist suspects that you have bruxism, he or she will try to determine its cause by asking questions about:

  • Your general dental health
  • Your daily medications
  • Whether you routinely drink alcohol or caffeinated beverages, especially during the evening
  • Your sleep habits, especially about any unusual grinding sounds heard by your sleeping partner during the night

To evaluate the extent of bruxism, your dentist may check for:

  • Tenderness in your jaw muscles
  • Obvious dental abnormalities, such as broken or missing teeth or poor tooth alignment
  • Damage to your teeth, the underlying bone and the inside of your cheeks, usually with the help of X-rays

A dental examination may detect other disorders that can cause similar jaw or ear pain, such as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, other dental disorders or an ear infection. If your dentist suspects a significant psychological component to your teeth grinding or a sleep-related disorder, you may be referred to a therapist, counselor or sleep specialist.

A sleep specialist may conduct additional tests, such as video monitoring and measuring how often your jaw muscles contract while you sleep.

May. 19, 2011