Teeth Grinding or Clenching: Things to know

What it is?

Gnashing and grinding teeth or clenching of teeth is medically called Bruxism. People who grind their teeth are often not aware that they are doing it. It does not usually cause harm, but when teeth grinding occurs on a regular basis the teeth can be damaged and other oral health complications can arise.


How often does this happen?

Some people grind their teeth only during sleep; this condition is called “nocturnal bruxism” or “sleep-related bruxism.” Others grind their teeth during the daytime as well, most often during situations that make them feel tense or anxious.


What causes it?

Stress, anxiety, smoking, heavy alcohol, caffeine, depression and sleep disorders are all possible causes of teeth grinding, also according to the Bruxism Association. There is, however, little evidence to directly support any cause. Research has shown that bruxism is found more frequently in people who snore or suffer from obstructive sleep apnea.

It has been found that 70 percent of people clench and grind their teeth as a result of stress and anxiety. Some research has shown a possible link between teeth grinding and a stressful work environment.

Bruxism can sometimes occur as a complication of severe brain injury, or a symptom of certain rare neuromuscular diseases involving the face.

How will I know if I grind my teeth especially at night?

  • A grinding sound at night, which may disturb the sleep of someone who shares a bedroom with you. So ask family.
  • Tooth sensitivity to cold and hot due to the rubbing off of tooth enamel
  • A dull morning headache
  • Jaw muscles that are tight or painful, especially in the morning
  • Chronic facial pain
  • The chronic grinding may wear teeth down and damage teeth, fractured dental fillings and injured gums.
  • Rhythmic contractions of the jaw muscles.


What Can I Do to Stop Grinding My Teeth?

  • Your dentist can fit you with a mouth guard to protect your teeth from grinding during sleep.
  • If stress is causing you to grind your teeth, ask your doctor or dentist about options to reduce your stress. Attending stress counseling, starting an exercise program, seeing a physical therapist, or obtaining a prescription for muscle relaxants are among some of the options that may be offered.
  • If a sleeping disorder is causing the grinding, treating it may reduce or eliminate the grinding habit.
  • Avoid or cut back on foods and drinks that contain caffeine, such as colas, chocolate, and coffee.
  • Avoid alcohol. Grinding tends to intensify after alcohol consumption.
  • Do not chew on pencils or pens or anything that is not food. Avoid chewing gum as it allows your jaw muscles to get more used to clenching and makes you more likely to grind your teeth.
  • Train yourself not to clench or grind your teeth. If you notice that you clench or grind during the day, position the tip of your tongue between your teeth. This practice trains your jaw muscles to relax.


When To See A Professional

See a dentist if you have symptoms of bruxism, or if you are told that you grind your teeth while you sleep.

Also, make a dental appointment immediately if you fracture a tooth, lose a filling, or notice that your teeth are becoming abnormally loose in their sockets.


Its Teethlicious Tuesday, Share this information to family and friends so together we can all educate ourselves on how to maintain our oral health. Thanks for reading., you can leave your comments and questions below.

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