Common signs of teeth grinding – How to treat

Common signs of teeth grinding – How to treat

Grinding teeth and tooth pressing is quite common, but far from everyone knows that they are affected. By extension, it can lead to permanent damage to the teeth. Here are the most common causes behind the trouble, what signs to look out for, and what you can do to alleviate the problems.

It is common to grin and squeeze teeth. It usually happens when you sleep, which means you don't notice it. It can also happen when you are awake. You may notice it if your teeth wear out quickly or if you get sore and get hurt in the jaws.


The most apparent sign of bruxism is the abnormal wear of the teeth. The teeth can feel sharp, prickly and even crack. However, the wear continues for a long time, which can make it difficult to detect. Muscle contractions in the jaw can lead to both headaches, neck discomfort and fatigue and soreness in the jaw.

Do you get up with headaches and sore jaws? Then there is a risk that you either grit or squeeze your teeth, which in medical terms is called bruxism.

The problem is that many people miss out on the gnashing of teeth because it usually happens at night. Tooth pressing is more common in the daytime, but many do it unconsciously.

According to the website Netdoktor, it is estimated that between 10-20 percent grit or squeeze teeth. In children, it is even more common. However, given that the problem is first detected at a dentist’s visit or when a partner sounds an alarm, the darkness may be considerable.

Common Causes: That’s why we grit our teeth

Exactly why we grin and squeeze our teeth is not entirely clear. But there are plenty of theories and possible causes. Including psychological factors and lifestyle habits. 

Stress and anxiety

You probably know that stress can put a lot on the body. According to the ear-nose-throat doctor Michael Lerner, together with anxiety, this is a common cause of dental caries.

Some carry the stress into their sleep and grit their teeth, while others squeeze the jaw when they end up in a stressful situation.

“It’s just like other more well-known anxiety-related behaviours like biting their nails, spinning their hair and bouncing their legs,” Lerner says.

Research is showing that people who go through stressful experiences like a divorce, a death or a move are at higher risk of bruxism.

Alcohol, caffeine and nicotine

According to a 2016 study, bruxism is twice as common in people who drink alcohol. Exactly why you do not know, but a theory maybe that alcohol disturbs sleep. According to the Huffington Post, we do not grit our teeth when we dream, and alcohol can interfere with REM sleep, where dreams arise. According to the 1177 Care Guide, it is most common to grit teeth as we go from deep to shallow sleep.

According to Netdoctor, both nicotine and caffeine can lead to higher levels of adrenaline in the body, which can possibly aggravate gnashing.

Misaligned jaw

In some cases, an abnormal bite, i.e. how to bite your lower jaw and upper jaw, maybe the problem.

“Usually, the teeth lock into each other when we sleep, but if the teeth are not properly aligned, they may slip past each other,” says Rafael Pelayo, a sleep specialist at Stanford.

There also seems to be a hereditary component, but more research is still needed in this area.

Other reasons

According to the 1177 Care Guide, tooth scraping can, in unusual cases, be due to neurological diseases, drug abuse or certain types of drugs. Above all, SSRIs, which can be used for depression and anxiety, seem to have a clear link.

Children crackling teeth

As I say, children grit their teeth. According to Netdoctor, it is mainly about children aged 5-6, but can start much earlier. The reason may be that the bite is still developing and that new teeth are emerging. Another explanation is the stress and demands that arise when the child starts school. 1177 The care guide writes that the problems decrease or disappear entirely at the age of seven.

Milk teeth are, as you know, both smaller and softer than adult teeth, which can lead to rapid abrasion and a loud squeaking sound.

Treatment: How do you get rid of the trouble?

If you suspect you are gritting or squeezing your teeth, you can start by contacting the dental office. Which treatment is appropriate depends on the underlying cause.

If stress is a factor, relaxation exercises can be a way forward, perhaps in combination with professional help. Cutting down on caffeine, nicotine and alcohol is also worth a try.

If you suffer from a toothache while awake, specific exercise programs are designed to break the bad habit – including movements of the lower jaw that relax the muscles.

In some cases, it may be necessary to have a stain rail. It is definitely best if you order a custom-made rail via your dentist. The idea is that you sleep with the rail made in place, it protects both the teeth and relieves the jaw joint.

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