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Today, teeth grinding is one of the most common oral health issues. The condition can cause many dental problems such as fracturing, loosening, or loss of teeth. Find out what causes teeth grinding and what are the best ways to cope with this condition

7 Easy Tips on How to Stop Teeth Grinding at Night

author icon By Dr. George Ghidrai

What is teeth grinding ?

Teeth grinding, medically known as bruxism, is a very common condition that affects approximately 20 percent of children and adults.

teeth grinding

The most common signs of teeth grinding are extremely worn teeth and/or pain in the jaws when patients wake up from a night's sleep.

Before we give you some important tips on how to control this condition, let's see what causes teeth grinding and why is this condition harmful to your teeth.

You can jump straight to our infographic on how to stop grinding teeth at night.


When is teeth grinding harmful ?

Most people probably grind and clench their teeth from time to time, but occasional teeth grinding does not usually cause any harm. For example, occasional teeth grinding can occur during the day, when a person is concentrating on a task, such as lifting a heavy object, driving the car, reading or writing something important.

However, when teeth grinding occurs on a regular basis (especially when it is done unconsciously in the sleep), the teeth can be damaged and other oral health complications can arise.


Why do people grind their teeth ?

Teeth grinding is most common in adults between the ages of 25 and 44. The causes of bruxism are not always very clear, but it is generally agreed that bruxism is usually linked to other factors, such as stress and anxiety or sleep problems. However, teeth grinding can sometimes occur as a side effect of taking certain types of medication or as a result of certain lifestyle factors.


Why is teeth grinding harmful ?

Teeth grinding can cause many dental problems such as fracturing, loosening, or loss of teeth. Severe cases of bruxism may wear teeth down, which can result in short teeth and an increased tooth sensitivity. In such situations, you may need dental treatment to avoid further problems. These treatments may include bridges, crowns, root canals, implants and even dentures.

Moreover, bruxism can also affect dental restorations, increasing the risk of fractured or loosened fillings, dental crowns or bridges, and dental implants. As a general rule, dental implants should not be placed until this condition is properly treated.

Not only can severe grinding damage teeth and dental restorations, it can also affect your jaws, cause or worsen Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (the joint of the jaw), and even change the appearance of your face.


How do I find out if I grind my teeth ?

Because grinding often occurs during sleep, most people are unaware that they grind their teeth. A dull, constant headache and/or pain in the jaws when you wake up are the most common symptoms of teeth grinding.

Many times people learn that they grind their teeth by their partners, who hears the grinding at night. Other possible symptoms of teeth grinding include earache, facial muscle pain or tightness and stiffness in the shoulders.

If you have one of these symptoms, or if you notice that your teeth are worn, you should see your dentist. He or she will examine your mouth and jaw for signs of bruxism, such as jaw tenderness and excessive wear on your teeth and help you treat this condition.


How to stop grinding teeth at night ?

The first thing you need to do if you notice any signs of teeth grinding is to inform your dentist. He or she will recommend one or more treatment options depending on the causes of your bruxism.

But there are also many things you can do to help prevent or stop this condition.

As promised, here are seven tips that will help you control and/or treat teeth grinding. These include easy-to-perform home remedies as well as more advanced procedures that should be carried out at the dental practice.


Now, let's go through this step-by-step.


Lifestyle and home remedies that help you stop teeth grinding


Mouth guards and mouth splints

Mouth guards and splints may help reduce muscle activity in your jaw at night; however, they are only able to control the condition, not cure it.

A mouth guard is a specially made, rubber-like cover, which fits exactly over your teeth and gums; it is similar in appearance to the one used to protect teeth from injury during sports.

mouth guard for teeth grinding

mouth guard for teeth grinding

mouth guard for teeth grinding inside the mouth

mouth guard for teeth grinding inside the mouth

The mouth guard will create a barrier between your upper and lower teeth to protect them from damage, such as fracturing, loosening or excessive teeth wear. Moreover, a mouth guard can even out the pressure across your jaw and help reduce any grinding noises you make at night.

A mouth guard can be custom made by your dentist to fit your mouth. A custom-made mouth guard provides the most comfort and protection; therefore, it is not advisable to buy a stock mouth guard from your pharmacist or another store as it is unlikely to fit as well as the one made by your dentist.

Mouth splints are made from harder plastic, but they are no more effective than mouth guards in reducing the symptoms of bruxism. However, they tend to last for more years; mouth splints are also more expensive.


Treating the underlying cause

Besides wearing a mouth guard during the night, treating the underlying cause should be the key point of the entire approach. Bruxism is generally caused by stress and anxiety or a sleeping disorder called obstructive sleep apnea.

a. Stress and anxiety

If stress and anxiety are the problems, a course of cognitive behavioral therapy may be recommended. A specially trained therapist will help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and how you act.

Moreover, if your bruxism is stress related, it is important that you try to relax and get a good night's sleep. There are a number of things you can do to help you wind down before you go to bed. These include:

b. Sleeping disorder

Today, many dental researchers believe that the main cause of teeth grinding during the night is a sleeping disorder called sleep apnea. This condition causes breathing to be interrupted during the sleep.

sleeping

Researchers studied brain scans of people with a partial blockage in their airways while they slept and they noticed that it was teeth grinding that reopened the airway and got the study participants breathing again.

The new understanding is that, in order to treat teeth grinding, you have to treat the root cause — and that is the obstruction of the airway. Once you remove the need to grind, teeth grinding stops.

Therefore, if a sleeping disorder is causing the grinding, treating it may reduce or eliminate the grinding habit. Talk to your doctor about getting a sleep study to get a diagnosis for sleep apnea from a sleep specialist.

c. Bruxism as a side effect

If you develop bruxism as a side effect of taking antidepressant medication, talk to your GP; he may suggest changing your medication. However, you should never stop taking medication that's been prescribed for you without consulting your GP first.


Have regular dental checkups

It is very important to visit your dentist on a regular basis so that any problems caused by your teeth grinding are treated as soon as possible to prevent further damage.

Most of the times, dental problems, such as misaligned, cracked, crooked or missing teeth, can be treated with reconstructive dental treatments. Sometimes, in the case of a severe crack, you may need to have root canal treatment.

Jump to our teeth grinding infographic


References

Webmd.com:

Ask the Dentist by Dr. Mark Burhenne

Mayo Clinic:

Colgate.com - Oral Care Center:

Last review and update: May 2018



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Teeth Grinding Guide created by Schererville & Chesterton Family Dentistry