Teeth grinding is common, and it’s not necessarily a problem if it’s only done occasionally. However, regular grinding, known as bruxism, is more of an issue. It can cause damage to the teeth and to the jawbone. Often, this type of teeth grinding happens when someone is asleep. This means that they may not realise they have a problem.
This is why it’s so important to look out for symptoms of teeth grinding. If you notice that you have any of these symptoms, you need to take action. The sooner you act, the more damage and pain you can avoid.
What causes teeth grinding?
If you know the causes of teeth grinding, you can be more aware of being at risk. There are several potential causes to think about. One or more of these causes could be to blame.
Stress and anxiety
According to a 2018 study by the Mental Health Foundation, 74% of people questioned said they had been stressed to the point of being overwhelmed in the previous 12 months. It’s this type of stress that is a major cause of teeth grinding.
Given the link between teeth grinding and stress, it’s no surprise that the habit is reported to be a potential sign of bullying in teenagers.
Certain types of medication can potentially cause people to grind their teeth. Antidepressants such as paroxetine and sertraline are especially likely to cause problems. If you think that your medication is causing a problem, you should have a discussion with your doctor.
Problems with sleeping
Anyone who suffers from a sleep disorder is more likely to grind their teeth. Sleep issues that can lead to teeth grinding include talking while sleeping, obstructive sleep apnoea, sleep hallucinations and sleep paralysis.
There are certain lifestyle choices that make it more likely that someone will grind their teeth. These choices include smoking, drinking alcohol, taking recreational drugs and drinking large amounts of beverages which contain caffeine.
Signs of teeth grinding
As teeth grinding often happens during sleep, it can be difficult for you to know that you have a problem. There are certain signs to look out for.
- Aches and pains in the face.
- Unexplained headaches.
- Persistent earache.
- Soreness and stiffness around the jawbone and in the muscles of the jaw.
- Interrupted sleep.
- Wearing and damage to teeth.
If you are experiencing one of more of these symptoms you could be grinding your teeth. You should seek advice from your dentist if you think that teeth grinding may be to blame. Once a teeth grinding problem is confirmed, it’s important to act straight away.
How to stop teeth grinding
A teeth grinding problem can lead to oral damage if it’s not stopped. There are several steps that can be taken, to help make this happen.
Using a mouthguard
A mouthguard does not stop the grinding itself. However, it’s an effective way of reducing the amount of damage caused. It can also relieve a lot of the aches and pains which may be present. This gives you the chance to deal with the issues causing teeth grinding while protecting your teeth.
Exercise helps to reduce the number of stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, in the body. It also aids the production of endorphins which help to kill pain and improve mood. This means that exercising on a regular basis helps to relieve the stress that can be the cause of teeth grinding.
Relaxing before bed with a warm bath
Improving sleep helps to reduce the chances of grinding teeth. One of the best ways to ensure a good night’s sleep is to relax in a warm bath before going to bed. It’s also important to sleep in a dark room with lights, especially blue light, eliminated as much as possible. This helps you to get to sleep more easily and to remain asleep through the night.
Paying attention to the positioning of teeth
It’s possible for a sufferer to reduce teeth grinding by paying attention to the way teeth are held while they are awake. If you suffer from the problem, make sure that your teeth are kept apart at all times, except while you are eating.
Massaging the jaw
The muscles of the jaw clenching often causes teeth grinding. Massage is an excellent way of relaxing muscles. This applies to the jaw just as it does to other parts of the body. This is why a jaw massage is a good way of solving problems with teeth grinding.
Seeking help from professionals
As stress and anxiety can be a major cause of grinding teeth, it’s a good idea for you to get help from a professional if necessary. Psychologists and psychiatrists can help people overcome the problems that often lead to teeth grinding.
Drinking less caffeine and alcohol
Reducing intake of caffeine and alcohol helps to stop teeth grinding. This is why it’s so important for anyone experiencing problems with grinding their teeth to monitor the amount of alcohol they drink, as well as drinking less tea and coffee.
Using one or more of these methods can help make teeth grinding a thing of the past. If problems persist, it’s a good idea to seek help from a dentist.
The team at the Neem Tree helps patients to conquer problems with teeth grinding. We help people to recognise that they have a problem so that it can be dealt with. We also provide customised mouthguards that are designed to fit individuals, to provide protection for teeth during sleep. These mouthguards also absorb much of the stress that can be caused when teeth grinding takes place. This helps to alleviate the uncomfortable symptoms which may be present.
Contact the Neem Tree for help if you are having problems with teeth grinding. We will discuss the issues with you and help you to resolve the problem.