Teeth Grinding: Symptoms, Reasons and Treatment

woman doing teeth grinding

Do you have a habit of unconsciously clenching your teeth? This condition is known as Teeth Grinding or Bruxism.

Doing it occasionally will not lead to bigger oral health problems but regularly doing it consciously or unconsciously in sleep and when awake will harm your teeth.

They will wear down over time, crack, flatten and the enamel thins.

Also, it may cause regular headaches and facial pain.

This article discusses the symptoms, causes and treatment of Bruxism. Keep reading to find out how you can stop this habit.

yoman with teeth grinding symptoms

What Are Teeth Grinding Symptoms?

You may be clenching your teeth during sleep without knowing it.

In fact, if you do so during sleep, it is a sleep-related movement disorder similar to other sleep disorders such as snoring or sleep apnea.

Hence, you will have to notice the signs in the daytime.

Check if your teeth, especially the canines are flat, are loose or chipping.

Also, grinding is usually very loud so ask your partner if you make that sound during sleeping.

Notice if you are feeling more toothache and sensitive teeth lately.

You may see a yellow hue on your enamel which indicates that it is thinning and wearing down exposing the dentin.

Besides teeth, you can feel soreness and pain in the neck, face and jaw.

Experiencing a mild headache is also common. There is a dull pain in the temples.

Furthermore, your cheeks from inside may have some scratches and damage because of the chewing and clenching action.

Your jaw muscles can become very tight or locked up and will not open up properly, either close.

This leads to TMJ disorder as it can stiffen the temporomandibular joint.

Also, you will have disturbed and disrupted sleep.

You may also feel a faint earache that is completely unrelated to any problem with your ears.

Once, you identify these symptoms, you should decipher the cause behind this unconscious habit.

More on that below!

boy clenching teeth in anger

Reasons Behind Bruxism

There are no set causes behind your bruxism.

However, there are certain risk factors that can cause you to clench and grind.

You can have bruxism while you are awake as a coping mechanism.

For instance, you can resort to grinding teeth when you are under stress, some sort of tension, facing anxiety, frustration or anger.

While you are asleep you will find yourself clenching because of arousal sleep disorders.

Another sleep disorder that can cause it, includes sleep apnea.

Similarly, medical disorders such as

  • Parkinson’s disease
  • GERD
  • Epilepsy
  • ADHD
  • Dementia

…can all be risk factors behind your bruxism.

Furthermore, it can be a side effect of taking some medicines particularly antidepressants.

Unhealthy habits like smoking, chewing tobacco, taking recreational drugs and drinking alcohol plus consuming caffeine in coffee can all cause this as a side effect.

Also, it is more common in children.

In order to deal with their anxiety or any stressful situation, children may resort to thumb-sucking or grinding.

It usually goes away when they grow old, however, some may continue it well into adulthood.

Besides psychological and physiological reasons, bruxism may also be due to genetics.

If any of your close family members do it, you are also likely to have this habit.

Moreover, if you have an aggressive and competitive personality then you are likely to get stress and anxiety often.

Therefore, your personality can also become a risk factor to cause your bruxism.

Also, having crooked teeth and a misaligned bite will not close your mouth properly and can lead you to clench.

woman sleeping with bruxism

Why Is It Harmful?

Bruxism is not entirely harmless but it is not as concerning if you or your child only does it for a short while.

However, if they form an unhealthy habit then it can wear down their enamel.

This will cause your dentin to become more apparent and you to have yellow teeth.

However, what’s more concerning is how it affects the teeth and jaw.

Your teeth can become fragile and even fall.

The action of grinding and clenching can crack the tooth and the enamel, making it weak.

You can get fractures and the teeth can become loose over time.

Furthermore, it can affect your jaw causing a change in your facial appearance.

It can also worsen the temporomandibular joints (TMJs) as well as harm your restorations such as crowns.

Your jaw may make a clicking sound when you open and close it.

Also, notice if your canine and otehr teeth are beginning to become flatter than normal.

You should see your dentist if you notice sensitivity, jaw pain and earache and regular headache.

All these factors may point towards unconsciously grinding of the teeth while awake or during sleep.

You will need dental work to treat all these consequences.

These include root canal, bridges, dental implants, and dentures.

Visit the dentist on time as these conditions could worsen and lead to a dental abscess.

wearing nightguard for treating bruxism

Treatment and Diagnosis

Your dentist will examine your teeth and ask about your symptoms.

They will look over them in multiple sessions to see the progress of your facial structure, jaws and teeth to identify if the symptoms actually indicate bruxism.

They can only begin treatment after they know the exact cause behind it which you can help them identify by telling them about your medical history, habits, personality and routine.

To check the extent of damage they will look for tenderness in your jaw as well as check the chipped, fractured, loose, broken and missing teeth.

They may carry out a dental X-ray to check the damage inside cheeks and in the underlying bone.

However, if the cause comes from sleep, physiological and mental disorders then they may refer you to a more suitable doctor after treating the damage in the cheeks.

Teeth Grinding Treatment 

Children may stop doing grinding and clenching on their own.

Whereas for adults, the situation may not be as severe to need treatment or therapy.

However, if it is, your dentist will treat the damages and provide a solution to preserve your teeth.

Though these will prevent further harm, they cannot cure bruxism.

Your Dentist can help you by:

  • Suggesting a Mouthguard or Nightguard for Teeth Grinding

You can wear these to prevent the upper and lower teeth from coming into contact.

These are especially useful at night to prevent your teeth from touching each other that can eventually lead to the action of clenching.

They look like retainers but use a soft material or hard acrylic to make them.

  • Correcting the Damage

If the damage is severe, you may require implants, root canal or dentures.

However, if it affects the chewing surfaces, then your dentist can just reshape them and place crowns.

Check other solutions below!

woman getting massage to reduce stress

Solutions and Healthy Approaches

Dealing with Stress

Consult a therapist for stress management and anxiety issues.

If stress is the driving force for your bruxism then learn to relax using meditation, massage, music, reading books, exercise and taking a walk and bath can help reduce stress.

However, if the situation is repetitive and out of hand, then consulting a specialist is your best option.

Control the Shape of Your Jaw 

Consult your dentist to understand the proper way to position your mouth and jaw and try to follow that.

If you cannot, try biofeedback which helps in teaching how to control muscle activity in your jaws.

Use of Medicines 

Medicines do not cure bruxism but they can help deal with the causes that lead to it.

For instance, your doctor or dentist may recommend taking antidepressants or antianxiety meds.

This is not a permanent solution for stress and anxiety problems hence, they might recommend a short-term use only.

Similarly, short-term use of a muscle relaxant can also help to keep you from jaw clenching at night.

If any other treatment does not work and bruxism is causing a lot of harm to your health then Botox injection can help with the damage and symptoms.

Though, sometimes the condition is due to side effects from medicines and your doctor may simply replace it with another suitable option.

Treating Underlying Medical Conditions 

If your diagnosis points towards an underlying condition causing bruxism, then it is best to treat it first.

Examples include sleep disorders like sleep apnea or digestive conditions like GERD.

Taking medicines for other diseases like Parkinson’s, Epilepsy and ADHD may also improve your habit of clenching.

sleeping well to avoid teeth grinding

Teeth Grinding Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle changes and remedies can help you reduce bruxism over time.

  • Avoid drinking caffeine and alcohol

Coffee, tea and drinks containing caffeine can indeed worsen the condition.

Moreover, another culprit is alcohol.

Hence, limit your alcohol intake before evening and do not drink and caffeinated drinks after dinner.

  • Discontinue Smoking

Smoking and chewing tobacco harm teeth in various ways and worsening bruxism is one of these.

If you were thinking of quitting it, here you have another reason.

  • Improve Your Sleep

If you snore, suffer from sleep apnea or any other sleep disorder then get its treatment.

They interfere with the quality of your sleep and can worsen the condition.

  • Visit The Dentist

If you schedule your regular visits with the dentist then they can easily identify bruxism by looking and your jaw, teeth and inquiring about your medical history.

This will help you detect teeth grinding also called bruxism on time and stop it by wearing a night guard or improving your lifestyle and your child’s baby teeth.

So Summing Up 

Teeth grinding isn’t as harmless as you may think.

Hence, you need to take proper steps to treat it and not keep living with it.

Let us know in the comments below if you found this article useful in treating your bruxism.



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