Home HealthDental Health Teeth Grinding: Reasons and Prevention

Teeth Grinding: Reasons and Prevention

by Wasifa Ahmad Hasan

Did you know that teeth clenching is a common habit that many of us consciously or subconsciously do? Teeth grinding (or Bruxism in dental terms) may start as a harmless habit, but if we continue to do it over time, our dental health shows the harmful effects.

Teeth grinding can wear away healthy tooth enamel resulting in hypersensitivity, decay, and damage to fillings. It can also lead to headaches, stiff neck, sore gums, painful jaws, and altered structure of your jaw muscles. The cause of this behavior involves multiple factors. Today, we will talk about the most common reasons behind teeth grinding and how to prevent it.

Teeth Grinding

1) Sore Jaw Muscles

It is common for most people to undergo a phase of jaw-clenching at some point in time. However, if you find yourself going through this regularly, you will notice that your jaw muscles feel sore. It is even worse when you wake up feeling irritated jaw ligaments. This means you may have been grinding and clenching your teeth in your sleep.
Unfortunately, sore jaws can even lead to more tooth grinding, jaw tensions, and constant clenching. Hence, you will experience a vicious cycle that is hard to break.

Prevention:

  • Massaging your jaw with your fingers or a face massager may help increase blood flow and reduce muscle tightness.

2) Children Milk Teeth

If you have kids, the appearance of milk or baby teeth will lead to a period of grinding in small kids. Then, after a while, when everything has fully erupted, the Bruxism will ease off.
However, as the adult or permanent teeth cut through, kids can experience grinding once again. Your child experiences this because they are adjusting to the new teeth. On top of that, newly sprouted teeth affect alignment, which also triggers grinding. The NHS supported this incident and shared that 1 in 5 children under 11 years old grind their teeth. The ratio could even be higher because some parents don’t report the incident. 

Prevention:

  • Try a cooling teether to sooth the condition.
  • Most children stop the teeth grinding habit after the two sets of teeth have come in more fully. Even if they don’t, they often outgrow teeth grinding by adolescence. 
  • Make sure your child’s diet includes plenty of water. Dehydration may be linked to teeth grinding.
  • Visit a denstist regularly and ask your dentist to monitor your child’s teeth.

3) Stress

If you feel anxious and stressed, it is common to tighten your jaw and grind your teeth. When you feel mental and emotional burdens, it can lead to physical tension, as well. You may not even be aware that you are grinding your teeth or clenching the jaw as a way to relieve your adverse feelings. Over time, your muscles will continue to feel tense and tight, leading to jaw pain and teeth issues. 

Prevention:

To reduce the stress, talk to an expert. They can guide you to take-

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a type of talk therapy that can help reduce stress.
  • Exercise.
  • Meditation.
  • Physical therapy.
  • You can also try night guard to protect your teeth. Smile Brilliant offers custom night guards.

4) Sleep Disorders

Suffering from sleeping disorders will contribute to teeth grinding. Issues like sleep talking, snoring, and sleep apnea (taking long pauses in breathing while asleep) are all culprits. It is bad enough that you cannot get a good rest, but Bruxism only exacerbates the situation and makes you feel worse upon waking up.
Sleep issues live up to the name by disturbing your sleep. When you are no longer in a deep state of your sleeping cycle, you are more likely to suffer from teeth grinding as the lighter phases of sleep will increase the chances. 

Prevention:

  • There can be many reasons for the sleep disorders. We will highly suggest talking to your doctor about this.

5) Change in Lifestyle

Changing your lifestyle habits can lead to grinding because you are subjecting your body to unfamiliar routines. As a result, this makes you feel somewhat tensed. For example, suppose you pick up smoking, drink too much caffeine, or take newly prescribed medication. In that case, it is possible to experience teeth grinding as your body attempts to adjust to new stimuli. 

Prevention:

6) Tooth Extraction

Getting your tooth pulled out is very painful. What makes it even worse is that it can lead to tooth grinding. In addition, tooth removal, especially at the back of your mouth with molars and wisdom teeth, can promote Bruxism. After all, these are more prominent teeth, so taking them out can make you feel uncomfortable and alter the feeling inside the mouth. 

Prevention:

  • Talk to your dentist clearly about your pain and discomfort. They can provide a solution.

7) Misalignment of Teeth

When you have misaligned teeth or excessive teeth, you are predisposed to Bruxism. This means your “bite” is compromised, so the way your teeth connect is also affected. This scenario can be pretty uncomfortable when you close your mouth. Consequently, this discomfort can start your grinding issues. 

Prevention:

  • See a dentist about the misalignment.

8) Chronic pain

Finally, experiencing chronic pain from health issues like lupus, arthritis, or Thoracic Outlet Syndrome can lead to teeth grinding. It is a natural body reaction to clench the jaw and grind the teeth when people are in pain. If you experience constant or regular pain and cannot find relief, you are most likely going to develop Bruxism.

Editor’s note:

I have seen many people suffering from Thoracic Out Syndrome talking about teeth grinding. I have Bruxism, and when I am awake, I am always trying to remind myself to refrain from it. However, the situation has significantly affected my teeth, jaw muscles, and even jaw shape. I have a constant dull pain around the jaw and temple and my teeth structure has also been altered. I have found that massaging the jaw muscles helps a lot, especially under the hot shower. It relaxes the soreness and tension. When I discover a better solution, I will definitely share it with all of you.

In a nutshell…….

If you’re suffering from excessive teeth grinding or Bruxism, seek immediate help from your dentist to avoid severe dental damage. Your dentist can take the necessary steps like making a mouthguard to protect your teeth, prescribing medication, or offering behavioral therapy to improve the condition.

Do you grind your teeth? If so, we hope you can find the cause and prevent it from happening.

Teeth Grinding Reasons and Prevention


Author Bio

Graduating as a dentist in 1986, Alison Mellor is the Practice owner and is responsible for ensuring that patients are happy with the dental care they receive. She has worked as a dentist predominantly in private dental practices and was also congratulated by the moderator on the high standard of her clinical work upon assessing over thirty clinic cases. Follow her on Facebook.


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