Teething Grinding – Causes and How it Affects Teeth

If you have concerns about your child grinding his or her teeth, or if you grind your teeth, we can help! Schedule your appointment at The Dental Anesthesia Center today.

Do you grind or clench your teeth? Or do you notice your child grinding their teeth while sleeping? If you or your child unconsciously clench your teeth when awake or clench or grind them during sleep, it is called bruxism.

  • What causes bruxism?
  • Signs and symptoms of bruxism
  • Does grinding your teeth cause damage?
  • How can you stop grinding your teeth?

What Causes Bruxism?

Bruxism is a condition in which a person grinds, gnashes, or clenches their teeth. If you have bruxism, you may unconsciously clench or grind your teeth while awake or asleep. But what is the cause of bruxism?

Bruxism is not completely understood, but it may be due to a combination of physical, psychological, and genetic factors. Individuals who grind or clench their teeth during the day may be due to stress, anxiety, anger, tension, or frustration. It could also be a coping mechanism.

Those who grind their teeth while sleeping, which is more common in children, are likely caused by an abnormal bite or missing or crooked teeth. It can also be caused by a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea.

Risk factors include:

  • Stress – Increased stress or anxiety and anger and frustration can lead to day or night time teeth grinding.
  • Age – Teeth grinding is more common in young children and typically goes by adulthood.
  • Medications – Teeth grinding may be an uncommon side effect of some medications like antidepressants.
  • Personality type – Hyperactive, aggressive, or competitive personality types are sometimes more prone to bruxism.
  • Genetics – Some studies suggest that certain people are genetically predisposed. If teeth grinding runs in your family, you may be more likely to do it.

Signs and Symptoms of Bruxism

If you grind your teeth during the day, you’re obviously awake and are aware of the fact. But if you grind your teeth at night, you may not know that you do it. Either way, signs and symptoms of bruxism include:

  • Flattened, fractured, chipped, or loose teeth
  • Worn enamel, exposing deeper layers of your teeth
  • Tooth pain or sensitivity
  • Locked jaw, or tired or tight jaw muscles
  • Neck, face, or jaw pain or soreness
  • Ear pain, even though there’s nothing wrong with your ears
  • Headaches, especially in the temples
  • Sleep disruption

Does Grinding Your Teeth Cause Damage?

The simple answer is yes, teeth grinding can hurt your teeth. Over time, bruxism can cause teeth to become loose, chipped, weakened, and broken. The longer a person grinds their teeth, the weaker their teeth become and the more susceptible they become to damage and decay.

Severe bruxism can cause the teeth to wear down to just stumps. It can also cause long-term damage to the jaw, causing pain, restricted jaw movement, and clicking.

How Can You Stop Grinding Your Teeth?

It is not uncommon for children to grind their teeth. Most kids outgrow bruxism. However, just because a child is likely to outgrow the habit doesn’t mean steps shouldn’t be taken to help stop it. If your child grinds their teeth, talk to your pediatric dentist for assistance.

If your bruxism is due to stress, anxiety, or other issues, there are a few tips you can try to help you stop grinding your teeth. Some of these tips include:

  • Reduce caffeine intake – If you are already experiencing stress or anxiety, caffeine can make the feelings worse, making it harder to stop the grinding.
  • Drink less alcohol – Studies suggest that teeth grinding may increase after drinking alcohol, especially if you are already prone to it.
  • Do not chew on other things – If you are constantly chewing gum or chewing objects like pen caps, the constant chewing motion may cause you to grind your teeth at night.
  • Stop when you notice it – If you catch yourself grinding your teeth while you’re awake, make an effort to stop doing it. Try putting your tongue slightly in between your teeth to prevent grinding. Also, try and relax your jaw.

Contact Your Dentist

At your regular dental checkups, discuss your concerns with your dentist. Having regular checkups will also enable your dentist to detect any issues before the problem becomes too serious. Your dentist may suggest having a custom mouthguard fitted to help prevent damage.

If you have concerns about your child grinding his or her teeth, or if you grind your teeth, we can help! Schedule your appointment at The Dental Anesthesia Center today. We look forward to seeing you!

Call Us Today

The Only Board Certified Dental Anesthesiologist in Missouri, including the St. Louis Metro Area.

Call (314) 862-7844
Updated: August 31, 2023

Leave a Comment