What is the difference between teeth clenching & teeth grinding?

Teeth clenching is as the name suggests, a forceful gritting of the teeth together. The muscles involved in teeth clenching are the two big chewing ones - the masseter and the temporalis located on the side of your face. You can feel these if you clench your teeth and feel the sides of your jaw and temples - you'll feel these muscles bulging.


These muscles act together to bring your jaws together in one simple dimension - they force the teeth together. Teeth clenching often happens in stressful situations but it's also common when people exert themselves - for example when lifting weights at the gym. Clenching tends to be done in the daytime when people are awake. As a result, clenchers often tend to be aware that they are doing it. 


Teeth grinding or 'bruxism' is slightly different. Here the teeth are also moved backwards and forwards or sideways across each other. Therefore the cusps of the teeth are worn together in a sideways dimension and you can erode or even crack your teeth in extreme situations. Grinding is more common at night during sleep and therefore many patients don't know that they are doing it.

Whilst the causes of bruxism aren't fully understood, it's believed to be an unconscious behaviour that develops into a chronic habit. Patients who suffer with bruxism tend to grind their teeth at night for lengthy periods, unaware of it until the morning or after being told by their dentist.

In reality, both clenching and grinding can occur at the same time or in some patients, they will tend to have more isolated features of only one of these patterns.

Why are teeth clenching &
teeth grinding a problem?

If you've ever suffered with teeth clenching or grinding, you'll know that some of the symptoms can be unbearable and it can hugely affect your quality of life. Common issues include:


Chronic pain of the muscles

Jaw joint pain

Jaw joint dislocation

Frozen jaw

Headaches or migraines

Neck tension or pain

Upper shoulder tension or pain

Excessively worn teeth 

Cracked teeth


How do anti-wrinkle treatments help with
teeth clenching & teeth 
grinding symptoms?

Whilst anti-wrinkle injections are best known for improving the wrinkles of the face, their muscle-relaxing properties can hugely help the symptoms of teeth clenching or teeth grinding.


When injected by an experienced injector, we can accurately target the problematic muscles causing your symptoms. This help you get control of the symtoms that you may have experienced and helps break the vicious cycle of unconscious clenching or grinding. This treatment doesn't affect eating, talking, swallowing or any other normal function of the muscles.

Treatment doses vary depending on the size of the muslces, the severity of your symptoms and muscles that need treating. Your face will be examined and your symptoms explored during your consult to estimate the right dose for you.

Shouldn't a dentist be supervising my
teeth clenching or teeth grinding?

Dr Jake strongly encourages patients who are experiencing any of the symptoms described to first see a dentist who specialises in malocclusion (bite problems and misalignment of the teeth). Patients can go for years with issues and dentists are the best specialist to assess the root cause of the issue if there is a biting problem. They may manage the issue themselves, they may make you a 'splint' or a 'plate' (the protect the teeth) or you may be referred to an orthodontist for more specialist teeth alignment.

Dentists and orthodontists however don't routinely offer injectable treatments. Therefore if they deem it suitable, they can refer* any of their patients to Dr Jake for additional support to use anti-wrinkle treatments for the clenching or grinding muscles. He will work in partnership with your dentist to help manage your symptoms and they are welcome to email him directly if they would like more information about this (drjake@drjakesloane.com)


*NB This is an informal referral but having some background history about your clenching, grinding and dental history is extremely useful and saves a lot of time on the day that you are seen by Dr Jake. Please note that no medicare rebates, private insurance claims or similar are applicable as this is not covered by cosmetic treatments. Your fee will be quoted prior to your treatment and patients are responsible for this.