how to prevent teeth grinding
Last Updated on June 6, 2022 by Peter

Teeth Grinding And How To Prevent It?

Nearly 1 in 3 people suffer from teeth grinding, or bruxism, as it is traditionally termed. Every tenth person suffering from bruxism grinds their teeth so severely that their teeth are reduced to small nubs.

This condition affects people of all ages, from childhood through adulthood, causing severe tooth damage, jaw disorders and headaches. Some of the bruxism happens during the day, but most of it happens in sleep. Many don’t know that they are doing it, unless their sleeping partner or dentist mentions it. That is why it can take months, or even years, to be diagnosed, and by then significant damage may already be done.

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    What is Bruxism?

    There are two types — one where you gnash and clench your teeth while awake — awake bruxism — and one where you clench and grind your teeth at night, termed sleep bruxism. Daytime teeth grinding usually occur when you are under stress, experiencing anxiety, or it may be simply a bad habit.

    Sleep bruxism, on the other hand, is considered a sleep-related movement disorder, the same type as restless legs syndrome and periodic limb movements. People who have one or more of these sleep-related movement disorders also tend to suffer from sleep apnea and snoring.

    Because grinding often occurs during sleep, most people are unaware that they grind their teeth. However, a dull, constant headache or sore jaw when you wake up 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.

    an image of a woman cannot sleep due to teeth grinding

    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 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, cause or worsen TMD/TMJ, and even change the appearance of your face.

    an image of effects of teeth grinding

    Signs and symptoms of teeth grinding

    Some of the signs that you suffer from bruxism include:

    • Awakening your sleeping partner due to loud sounds of grinding and clenching
    • Teeth are fractured, chipped, loose or flat
    • Tooth enamel wears erratically
    • Teeth become sensitive to hot, cold and sweets
    • Pain or soreness in the face or jaw
    • Tired or tight jaw muscles
    • Pain in the ear
    • A dull headache located in the temples
    • Sore spots inside your mouth from chewing on your cheeks
    • Indentations on your tongue
    an image of a woman having a headache due to teeth grinding

    Causes & risk factors

    In children, teeth grinding is linked with upper airway infections and anxiety disorders. In one study, 62.5 percent of the children with bruxism also had respiratory problems.  If your child has chronic asthma, regular dental checkups are advised to identify teeth grinding early before too much damage occurs.

    Researchers have also found a direct relationship between the presence of an anxiety disorder, and the onset of bruxism. It indicates that, like adults, anxiety can cause the hallmark symptoms of clenching, teeth grinding and gnashing. Children diagnosed with an anxiety disorder should have regular dental checkups. This will prevent long-term damage to the enamel of their teeth and to prevent chipping or breaking.

    stress may be the reason behind teeth grinding

    In adults, the causes of teeth grinding may reveal one or more of the following underlying medical conditions or prescription medication side effects:

    • Sleep apnea
    • Huntington’s Disease
    • Parkinson’s Disease
    • GERD
    • Anxiety disorder
    • Depression
    • Unresolved anger or frustration
    • Unmanaged stress
    • Abnormal alignment of upper and lower teeth
    • Certain psychiatric medications and antidepressants

    How to treat Bruxism?

    There are many ways to treat teeth grinding, and they could be divided into conventional treatments and natural remedies.

    Conventional treatments

    Apart from the natural remedies that we will mention, there are efficient conventional treatments for teeth grinding problems.

    Mouth guard

    The most common conventional treatment is a custom-made splint or mouth guard. It’s specially designed to keep your teeth separated. It can prevent further damage due to the grinding or clenching.

    teeth guard for teeth grinding

    Allignment correction

    If the problem is caused by improper alignment of the teeth, correcting the alignment before the damage is done is a great long-term option. A dentist or orthodontist may recommend using braces, crowns, oral surgery, or reshaping the chewing surface of the teeth.

    Prescription muscle relaxants and antidepressants

    Often when the cause is due to stress, lack of sleep, depression or anxiety, doctors will prescribe muscle relaxants. While they may be effective, speak to your doctor about potential side effects.

    antidepressants for bruxism

    Botox injections

    When someone doesn’t respond to other conventional treatments, some doctors may suggest Botox injections. Although there is limited research on the safety and efficacy of Botox for individuals with bruxism. However, it does appear useful in reducing the myofascial pain associated with the condition.

    Natural remedies

    There are effective natural remedies that will help you in solving your teeth grinding problem.

    Splint + cognitive behavioral therapy

    An interdisciplinary approach that included an occlusal splint combined with cognitive behavioral therapy was found to be significantly more effective. At least, more than just an occlusal splint. Researchers believe the combination is more effective at achieving muscle relaxation, resulting in a better outcome. The behavior therapy component will help you learn proper mouth and jaw positioning.

    Biofeedback

    In cases where the healthcare team believes that teeth grinding is a habit, and not caused by an underlying condition, biofeedback may be recommended to help relieve the symptoms. This complementary technique uses equipment to teach you how to control the muscle activity in your jaw. Initial studies indicate that it may be effective for both awake bruxism and sleep bruxism.

    Stress management

    To stop grinding teeth when you are suffering from stress or anxiety you need to manage and release your stress. Both children and adults can benefit from popular techniques. Those include regular physical exercise, meditation, yoga and essential oils. Of course, a healthy, balanced diet is also important. Avoiding any foods that may trigger an allergic reaction is vital.

    Vitamin C

    A great complement to stress management techniques and cognitive behavioral therapy. Increasing your intake of vitamin C can be beneficial when learning how to stop grinding your teeth. Vitamin C is used by our adrenal glands, affecting our response to stress. It is also essential in the making of dopamine, which helps regulate moods. Vitamin C rich foods include guava, black currants, red peppers, kiwi, green peppers, oranges, strawberries, papaya, broccoli and kale.

    Magnesium

    A couple of common signs of magnesium deficiency include anxiety, irritability, insomnia, restlessness and hyperactivity.  Adults can take 400 milligrams of high-quality magnesium supplement before bed to improve the quality of sleep.

    In addition to supplementation, including foods naturally rich with magnesium is also good. Such foods are spinach, chard, pumpkin seeds, kefir or yogurt, almonds, black beans, avocado, figs, dark chocolate and bananas.

    B-complex vitamins

    Like vitamin C and magnesium, the role of the B vitamins in our overall health and wellness is well-documented. Having a deficiency in any one of the B vitamins may cause psychological stress, depression and even panic attacks.

    an image of a happy couple got rid of teeth grinding

    Bellow are recommended daily intakes of vitamin B:

    Children

    1–3 years2mg
    4–8 years3mg
    9–13 years4mg

    Young Adults/Adults

    Men and women 14 and older5 mg
    Pregnant women6 mg
    Breastfeeding women7mg

    Valerian root

    Used for generations as a natural sedative and anti-anxiety treatment. Valerian root improves the quality of sleep, with no reported side effects. A study showed that 800 milligrams of valerian over an eight-week period improved the symptoms of restless legs syndrome and improved the quality of life. Since bruxism is classified as a sleep-related movement disorder, trying valerian root is warranted.

    Conclusion

    One in three people suffers from teeth grinding. It’s a very harmful disorder that can cause severe damage to teeth and gums. In children, it may be due to asthma, an anxiety disorder, an upper respiratory infection, or an allergy. In adults, bruxism may be due to an underlying medical condition or prescription medication. Conventional treatments include braces, prescription muscle relaxants, and mouth guard. The best natural treatments may include a combination of cognitive behavior therapy and the use of a mouth guard. When stress, depression or anxiety are co-occurring with bruxism, stress management techniques and boosting vital nutrients linked to healthy moods are a good solution.

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