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What Causes Teeth Grinding?

Exhausted woman sitting in bed with messy hair

Teeth grinding may seem like a harmless habit, but it can cause several different negative effects. Knowing what causes you to grind your teeth at night can help you and your dentist find a treatment that can minimize its occurrence and effects.

What does it mean to grind your teeth?

Teeth grinding – which is also known as bruxism – involves clenching, gnashing, or grinding your teeth together involuntarily. It’s done subconsciously and can occur during the day as well as while you sleep, although it occurs more commonly during sleep.

Why do people grind their teeth?

Teeth grinding can be caused by one or more of the following:

  • Stress
  • An abnormal bite
  • Missing or crooked teeth
  • A sleep disorder such as sleep apnea
  • Side effect of medication – such as antidepressants
  • Side effect of a medical issue – such as digestive problems
  • Lifestyle practices – such as smoking, drinking alcohol, taking in lots of caffeine, and/or using recreational drugs

What are some signs and symptoms that you’re grinding your teeth in your sleep?

If you grind your teeth while you sleep, you’re probably unaware that you have this habit unless your sleep partner points it out to you. It helps to know the following signs and symptoms so you can be aware of the fact that you may grind your teeth and can make an appointment with your dentist:

  • Jaw tenderness
  • Excessive wear on your teeth
  • Dull, constant headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Enlargement of facial muscles
  • Stiff shoulders and neck
  • Ear pain

What negative effects can occur because of teeth grinding?

Teeth grinding can wear down your tooth enamel, which covers your teeth and protects them from damage. As enamel is worn away, there’s no way to repair it, so your teeth are more vulnerable to suffering damage.

The following are some negative effects that can occur because of teeth grinding:

  • Tooth decay
  • Increased tooth sensitivity
  • Oral infections
  • Chronic pain
  • Broken teeth
  • Bone loss

How can teeth grinding be treated or the effects minimized?

The type of treatment recommended usually depends on the severity of your grinding as well as its cause.

One or more of the following types of treatment may be recommended:

  • Treating a sleeping disorder – with an oral appliance from Dental365Sleep
  • Mouth guard – a custom-fitted protector created from a mold made by your dentist to fit your mouth and teeth. It protects your teeth at night and also helps reduce jaw muscle activity.
  • Stress relief – such as counseling or meditation
  • Medication – such as a muscle relaxant
  • Lifestyle changes – avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and smoking as well as avoiding clenching your jaw or chewing gum, which leads to clenching

If you have symptoms of teeth grinding or have been told by your sleep partner that you grind your teeth, call Dental365 today. We have locations throughout New York, New Jersey, & Connecticut and gladly accept appointments or walk-ins seven days a week with extended weekday hours. Our experienced dentists offer the full range of dental services for the entire family.


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