Why am I grinding my teeth?

Grinding your teeth is a common thing that many adults, as well as young children, suffer with.

In order to take the right course of action, we first need to understand why we grind our teeth and what we may be able to do about it.

What does suffering from teeth grinding feel like?

The medical term for teeth grinding is called bruxism. Bruxism is the regular grinding together and clenching of teeth, most people will grind and clench their teeth occasionally and this does not cause any harm. Damage is done to the teeth and oral health when grinding and clenching takes place regularly and frequently. A dull consistent headache and jaw pain will be the first initial sign of grinding your teeth.

When are you most likely to grind your teeth?

Grinding often occurs when someone is unconscious such as when they are sleeping. When you are sleeping bruxism will occur with rhythmic contractions and clenching of the jaw and grinding the teeth together. However, bruxism may also take place during the day when people are concentrating on specific tasks such as driving or lifting heavy objects, as well as during periods of intense pressure and stress.

Potential causes of teeth grinding in adults.

Teeth grinding can be caused by underlying anxiety and stress. More subtle contributors could include caffeine, smoking, heavy alcohol consumption and sleep disorders. It has been found that 70% of people who grind their teeth at night work in intensely stressful work environments or suffer from underlying anxiety. It can also be caused by the presence of an abnormal bite or missing and crooked teeth.

What are the consequences of teeth grinding in adults?

Excessive and frequent teeth grinding can lead to the wearing down of tooth enamel to the point where teeth begin to resemble stumps. Tooth loss, fracturing your teeth and having the teeth loosen slightly are all other potential risks involved as a result of grinding your teeth.

What are some of the treatment options available when it comes to adults?

Often times our body will try to communicate with us that our stress levels are too high and that they need to be managed better. Grinding your teeth in your sleep is one of those signs and therefore taking steps to manage and reduce your stress is a healthy way to stop grinding in your sleep. Your dentist is able to fit you with a mouthguard to protect your teeth from grinding and preserve the integrity of your tooth strength. Being more mindful during the day of when you are clenching your jaw can help train your brain to relax the jaw and not tense when you feel stressed or pressured.

Why is my child grinding their teeth at night?

It is normal for babies/toddlers to begin grinding their teeth when new teeth are coming in or if their top and bottom teeth do not align properly. In many cases, babies and toddlers grow out of their teeth grinding phase, however, monitor your child for other symptoms of related issues. If they are avoiding food or their behaviour is more irritable they may be suffering from a tooth infection or pain. Children and babies may also grind their teeth due to the same reasons we do, stress. A change in routine or a new experience can place subconscious stress on a child and this will be materialized in grinding when they sleep.

What are some treatment options available for children?

Keeping a close eye on your child’s environment as well as their lifestyle can help you assess what may be the cause of their stress. Creating a relaxing routine before they sleep such as a warm bath/shower or reading a book can help to alleviate underlying stress before bedtime and prevent tension-grinding. A mouthguard or biteplate may be necessary in order to preserve the teeth if the grinding persists.

Consult your dentist at G Dental for advice.

By consulting one of the trusted dentists on the G Dental team you will be able to have an accurate assessment of your teeth performed to see if signs of teeth grinding are present, as well as advice on the best course of action moving forward.  Contact us to book an appointment.

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