Teeth grinding can occur when you’re awake, but for a lot of people, they’ll grind their teeth unknowingly while they sleep. The medical term for grinding teeth is “bruxism,” and the good news is that occasional grinding doesn’t cause harm in most cases.
But teeth grinding can also be a serious issue if a person grinds their teeth on a regular basis.
Regular grinding can cause teeth to break, chip and result in further complications, too. Let’s find out why people grind their teeth before we discuss how to stop grinding teeth.
Why People Grind Their Teeth
Tooth grinding can occur for a variety of reasons. When a person grinds their teeth, it’s often thought to occur because of:
But a person that grinds their teeth at night normally does so because of the following three reasons:
- Abnormal bite
- Crooked teeth
- Sleep disorder
People with sleep apnea, a sleep disorder, have a higher risk of grinding their teeth, too.
How to Stop Grinding Your Teeth
You know that you grind your teeth, and now you want to know how to stop this destructive habit. It’s quite difficult to stop without intervention on your part – you can’t just go to bed and hope it won’t happen.
There are many ways to stop teeth grinding:
1. Specially Fit Mouth Guard
A proven way to stop the damage caused by bruxism is to wear a mouth guard when you sleep. This mouth guard will protect your teeth from the stress of grinding, and it should be worn every night to protect the teeth.
Dentists can create a specially fit mouth guard for you if you have bruxism.
There is also the option to use third-party mouth guards. Many companies sell mouth guards for teeth grinding that you can fit yourself. All you need to do is dip the mouth guard in boiling water, remove it, and fit. The guard will conform to your teeth and harden so that it fits your teeth perfectly.
2. Lower Caffeine Consumption
Caffeine is known to make people get the jitters, and it’s also the cause of teeth grinding for many people, too. Eliminating or avoiding caffeine for several hours before bed is recommended. This means no:
- Tea (caffeinated)
3. Relax the Jaw Muscles Before Bed
Many people find relief if they relax their jaw muscles before bed. This can be done by:
- Turning on hot tap water
- Soaking a washcloth in the hot water
- Hold the washcloth on the jaw between your cheek and earlobe
And if you’re a gum chewer, you’ll also want to stop this habit. Chewing gum creates a habit of chewing and clenching the jaw, which will make your grinding worse.
4. Mandibular Advancement Devices
Mandibular advancement devices are custom made and fit over the bottom and top teeth. These devices will bring your bottom jaw forward. The bottom jaw is called the mandible.
This is a treatment option that works especially well for people that grind their teeth due to sleep disorders. Mandibular advancement devices are the preferred treatment for sleep apnea, too, and can help eliminate snoring.
A person that grinds their teeth due to stress will want to find ways to alleviate the stress in their lives. Stress relief can come from:
Anything you can do to destress is recommended if you suffer from teeth grinding.
Teeth Grinding and Children
If you’re concerned that your child is grinding his or her teeth too often, you’ll be happy to know that 15% to 33% of children grind their teeth. The grinding will happen at two times in a child’s life:
- When baby teeth emerge
- When adult teeth emerge
Stress from the new teeth growing in will often lead to teething and teeth grinding. And most children will stop their grinding habit once all of their permanent teeth grow in fully. Dentists and doctors are still unsure of why children grind their teeth at this time. Proposed causes for teeth grinding in children can also include:
- Misaligned teeth
- Irregular jaw alignment
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Endocrine disorders
If a person continues to grind their teeth, this can lead to:
- Jaw pain
- Wearing of the teeth
- Cracked or fractured teeth
A complete dental exam and evaluation is recommended for anyone that has a history of grinding their teeth at night.