Teeth grinding is a medical condition also known as bruxism. Teeth grinding is the gnashing and clenching of teeth which is an involuntary action mostly done when a person is asleep. Grind teeth when asleep is known as sleep bruxism. While there are many causes of teeth grinding, there are many health implications too. Hence, it is best avoided. So, know what causes teeth grinding some of the effective ways to prevent it.
What Causes Teeth Grinding?
Here are some of the causes of teeth grinding, as stated by the Bruxism Association:
- Stress – Stress is considered as one of the primary causes of teeth grinding. As some people in strenuous situation may bite their nails or twirl their hair, some find tooth grinding as an alternative to release stress from the body. It is also found that 70% of the people who are involved in teeth grinding suffer from stress and anxiety problems. Few researches have also shown a possible link between working in a stressful environment and teeth grinding.
- Hyperactive Personality - Hyperactive people with attention deficit or hyperactivity related disorders also have a greater risk of teeth grinding. The possible relation is that excess nervous energy is released through teeth clenching and grinding. Also, people with acute ADHD experience huge levels of stress, which could be a possible cause of teeth grinding.
- Sleeping Disorders - Changes in the sleeping patterns and sleeping disorders are also some of the common causes of teeth grinding. For example people with sleep apnea commonly experience teeth grinding.
- Medications - Some medications like antidepressants, have been severely linked with teeth grinding. Also, some neurological disorders and also their treatments may be some of the causes of teeth grinding.
- Bite Misalignment - Crooked teeth are one of the major causes of teeth grinding. Due to the missing or crooked tooth, the alignment of the bite is disturbed. So, the teeth tries to line up in the best manner which possibly leads to grinding. Some people using dentures may also experience the same. So, if you have such dental condition or misaligned teeth, it is better to consult a dentist.
Ways to Prevent Teeth Grinding
If the causes of teeth grinding are known, you can take action to treat them and prevent teeth grinding. Here are some effective ways to prevent teeth grinding.
One of the important ways to prevent teeth grinding is to relieve the sore muscles of the jaw and strengthen them. Find some tips and simple ways to prevent teeth grinding with this aim.
- Use a slightly warm or wet washcloth over the jaw to relieve sore muscles.
- Massage the jaw muscles, neck region, and the face to relieve tension on the trigger points
- Get physical therapy of jaws
- Practice exercises which help in relaxation of the jaw and strengthen facial muscles. These exercises include simple movements of the jaw, opening and closing the jaw, holding an open mouth for few seconds and blowing your cheeks. This helps to strengthen the facial muscles and keep the jaw muscle relaxed, thus helping to prevent teeth grinding.
- Use muscle relaxants, if medically advised to release the tensions on the jaw.
The other important approach to prevent teeth grinding is to treat the underlying cause.
- Practice relaxation and stress management techniques to reduce stress levels. Chronic stress is linked with involuntary action of teeth grinding.
- Learn to relax the jaw and facial muscles at regular intervals throughout the day
- Ensure proper night time sleep and get yourself evaluated for sleep apnea or other sleep disorders.
- Avoid eating chewing gums as constant jaw movement can affect the muscles of the jaw and cause easy fatigue.
- Drink more water to prevent teeth grinding. Studies suggest that drinking more water can lessen teeth grinding.
- Follow a healthy diet and lifestyle, avoid alcohol, smoking and caffeine, which stimulates and interferes with neurological activity and muscle control.
Doctors and dentists often prescribe night mouth guards in some cases. According to doctors, customized night mouth guards are best treatment for teeth grinding while asleep. Night mouth guards are worn at night, as effective ways to prevent teeth grinding. Non-customized, one-fit-for all mouth guards are also available, but they may have issues as regards their fitting. Hence it is best to follow medical advice.