Teeth Grinding: Symptoms and tests to diagnose bruxism

Image showing patient undergoing dental examination for bruxism detection. Apart from this various tests might be required to detect bruxism.
Bruxism detection includes dental examination

Bruxism detection usually involves questionnaires and clinical and/or dental examinations. In certain cases,specialised tests like EEG, PSG or EMG might be needed for comprehensive treatment planning.

Article Contents

What are the Symptoms of Bruxism ?

Bruxism can present with multiple symptoms, amongst them, grinding noise is the frequently recognised one. Sensitive teeth, muscular pain or headaches are the symptoms when bruxism patient seek help.

Here we list some of the common symptoms associated with teeth grinding for self evaluation :

  1. Teeth grinding or clenching, which may be loud enough to wake up your sleep partner.
  2. Teeth that are flattened, fractured, chipped, or loose or tooth pain or sensitivity.
  3. Tired or tight jaw muscles, or a locked jaw that won’t open or close completely.
  4. Jaw, neck, or face pain or soreness.
  5. Pain that feels like an earache.
  6. Dull headache starting in the temples?
  7. Sleep disruption.

If you have any of the above symptoms then you must visit you dentist or healthcare provider as soon as possible, before the pain worsens.

Why is a Questionnaire taken for Bruxism Detection ?

Bruxism has strong familial and genetical linkages. Hence, a thorough history taking by means of a questionnaire becomes important.

Image showing questionnaire to be filled as part of tests for bruxism detection.
Questions help doctors to understand you and your pain better.

Also, stress is a major etiological factor and you may find questions relating to it in the questionnaire.

You should disclose any family history of bruxism, neuromuscular disorders or any other dental abnormalities for better diagnosis of cause of teeth grinding.

Remember! its not teeth grinding that is to be treated, but the cause of teeth grinding which is to be treated. So answer the questionnaire completely.

What is done during Dental examination ?

Image showing dentist checking a bruxism patient’s teeth, gums, muscles and TMJ for pain or any other damage.
Dentist check your teeth, gums, muscles and TMJ in case of bruxism.

Your dentist will check for wearing of teeth, which can cause sensitivity and pain in the teeth. The dentist will also check your gums as they are also impacted by bruxism.

Your dentist will then move on to examine your oral muscles like masseter muscle for muscle soreness and then onto TMJ (temporomandibular joint). This helps to identify any negative impact on your joint and eliminate false pain signs.

Which specialised tests are available for Bruxism Detection ?

Bruxism detection can now be done with the help of a number of test and appliances.

Tests like EEG (electroencephalogram), EMG (Electromyography), sleep study or PSG (polysomnography) are now available.

Miniature self-contained EMG detector–analyser (BiteStrip) have been used to detect teeth grinding. Various Hybrid Machines that can perform both EEG and EMG studies together have been successfully used to detect bruxism.

Your dentist might even use Bruxcore Bruxism-Monitoring Device (BBMD), an intra-oral appliance that was introduced as a device for measuring sleep bruxism activity.

Image showing patients consulting doctor’s before undergoing diagnostic tests.
Consult your healthcare provider for comprehensive treatment.

Hence, a number of tools and test are now available for bruxism detection. However, which tool to use or which test to undergo is to be determined after a thorough questionnaire and dental examination.

Not all patients need to undergo this diagnostic tests, so seek professional advice before taking tests or appliances.

Closing Remarks

Diagnosis of bruxism is easy owing to a number of available tests but its treatment is dependent upon its underlying cause. Hence, if stress is the causative factor, de-stressing is as much important as wearing a mouth guard is.

So, see your health care provider as soon as possible for comprehensive treatment of bruxism and to avoid damage to your teeth, gums and joints.


Shetty S, Pitti V, Satish Babu CL, Surendra Kumar GP, Deepthi BC. Bruxism: a literature review. J Indian Prosthodont Soc. 2010 Sep;10(3):141-8. doi: 10.1007/s13191-011-0041-5. Epub 2011 Jan 22. PMID: 21886404; PMCID: PMC3081266.

Published by StephyK

Dentist with years of experience in private dental hospitals.