Saturday, May 14, 2011

Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)

Simply defined, teeth grinding is the act of consciously or unconsciously clenching your teeth either during the day or while you sleep. Bruxism is considered both a medical and a dental problem. This is because it affects both the teeth and all of the structure near it, including the head.

 Teeth grinding usually happens during sleep. Have you ever had a roommate or a sleeping partner that snores? Well you might have had one that grinds their teeth in their sleep as well. Teeth grinding is as common as snoring. However, unlike snoring, teeth grinding sounds are a little on the low side, although it can be as bothersome as well.

Why Do People Grind Their Teeth?

Although teeth grinding can be caused by stress and anxiety, it often occurs during sleep and is more likely caused by an abnormal bite or missing or crooked teeth.

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. However, a dull, constant headache or sore jaw is a telltale symptom of bruxism. Many times people learn that they grind their teeth by their loved one who hears the grinding at night.

If you suspect you may be grinding your teeth, talk to your dentist. He or she can examine your mouth and jaw for signs of bruxism, such as jaw tenderness and abnormalities in your teeth.

Why Is Teeth Grinding Harmful?

In some cases, chronic teeth grinding can result in a fracturing, loosening, or loss of teeth. The chronic grinding may wear their teeth down to stumps. When these events happen, bridges, crowns, root canals, implants, partial dentures, and even complete dentures may be needed.

Not only can severe grinding damage teeth and result in tooth loss, it can also affect your jaws, result in hearing loss, cause or worsen TMD/TMJ, and even change the appearance of your face.

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.

Other tips to help you stop teeth grinding include:
  •     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.
  •     Relax your jaw muscles at night by holding a warm washcloth against your cheek in front of your earlobe.
Do Children Grind Their Teeth?

The problem of teeth grinding is not limited to adults. Approximately 15% to 33% of children grind their teeth. Children who grind their teeth tend to do so at two peak times -- when their baby teeth emerge and when their permanent teeth come in. Most children lose the teeth grinding habit after these two sets of teeth have come in more fully.

Most commonly, children grind their teeth during sleep rather than during waking hours. No one knows exactly why children grind their teeth but considerations include improperly aligned teeth or irregular contact between upper and lower teeth, illnesses and other medical conditions (such as nutritional deficiencies, pinworm, allergies, endocrine disorders), and psychological factors including anxiety and stress.

Grinding of the baby teeth rarely results in problems. However, teeth grinding can cause jaw pain, headaches, wear on the teeth, and TMD. Consult your dentist if your child's teeth look worn or if your child complains of tooth sensitivity or pain.

Specific tips to help a child stop grinding his or her teeth include:
  •     Decrease your child's stress, especially just before bed.
  •     Try massage and stretching exercises to relax the muscles.
  •     Make sure your child's diet includes plenty of water. Dehydration may be linked to teeth grinding.
  •     Ask your dentist to monitor your child's teeth if he or she is a grinder.

No intervention is usually required with preschool-age children. However, older children may need temporary crowns or other methods, such as a night guard, to prevent the grinding.


  1. In most cases, teeth grinding sounds worse than it is. It's very likely that your baby isn't doing any damage to his teeth and he'll soon outgrow the habit

  2. Parents can help their kids relax by reading books to them. A glass of milk before sleep is also helpful! Bruxism is a sleeping disorder that should be treated at an early stage.

    Fred Collinsworth

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  5. I think teeth grinding is a commont dental disorder to most people. Thank you so much for your very enlightening blog post. I think you have been able to shed a brighter light on the aspect of bruxism. Most especially about the things we should do to avoid grinding our teeth. :)

    Thomas DeFinnis

  6. Children who grind their teeth may be seeking extra sensory input. Give them something resistive to chew on. This will give them the input they need while saving their teeth.
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  7. Occasional teeth grinding, medically called bruxism, 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. One of the leading dentist north vancouver will properly guide with all dental procedures which can cure any dental problems.

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