Teeth grinding

What causes teeth grinding and clenching?

Teeth grinding and clenching, medically known as bruxism, can be triggered by a number of factors. Stress and anxiety are common culprits, as people often unconsciously clench their jaw when they’re worried or tense. Sleep disorders like sleep apnea can also contribute to bruxism. Additionally, an abnormal bite (when your top and bottom teeth don’t fit together properly), missing teeth, or crooked teeth may also prompt grinding and clenching. Certain psychiatric medications, particularly antidepressants, are also known to cause bruxism.

How do I know if I clench or grind my teeth?

There are several indicators that may suggest you are clenching or grinding your teeth. You may often wake up with a sore jaw or face due to the excessive pressure applied during the night. Increased tooth sensitivity, as well as damage to the inside of your cheeks from chewing, can also be signs of bruxism. Upon visual inspection, you might notice that your teeth look worn down, flat or even chipped, which can be a result of persistent grinding.

Young nurse preparing patient for dental procedure at dentist's office.

How do you fix grinding and clenching?

Techniques such as yoga or mindfulness. Avoiding substances that may increase the tendency to grind, such as alcohol and caffeine, is also beneficial. In terms of dental solutions, using a mouth guard, especially at night, can protect your teeth from further damage by providing a protective barrier between your top and bottom teeth. In some cases, a dentist may recommend dental correction procedures like reshaping the chewing surfaces of your teeth, crowns, or even orthodontics to change the bite and alleviate bruxism. Always consult a ventura dental professional for a suitable diagnosis and treatment.

Why do I keep subconsciously clenching my jaw?

Subconscious jaw clenching often happens as a physical response to emotional stress, anxiety, or intense concentration. It’s a common way the body manifests tension and stress, even when we’re not aware of it. Certain sleep disorders can also lead to involuntary jaw clenching, as can certain medications, particularly those used for treating psychiatric conditions. It’s also worth noting that some people have a natural tendency to clench their jaw when focusing on a task or during intense physical effort.

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Grinding or Clenching

Grinding or clenching of teeth is medically known as bruxism. Grinding or clenching could be conscious or unconscious. Most people grind or clench occasionally, that could cause no harm, but when teeth grinding occur on a regular basis that can lead to damaging in oral tissues causing other oral health complications.

Why do people clench or grind their teeth: the reasons for teeth grinding is not always clear and can vary from patient to patient. At Channel Islands Family Dental, our experts work tirelessly to diagnose the physical, psychological or genetic factors that can cause bruxism.

Clenching - Apretar

Bruxism is broadly classified into two types

Awake Bruxism: grinding or clenching of teeth caused during the day while being awake. It is usually related to emotional issues, such as feeling anxious, stressed or angry.

Clenching - Apretar

Sleep Bruxism: On the other hand, when someone grind or clench their teeth while being asleep. Our specialist at Channel Islands family dental office, explains our patients since they asleep they are unaware of the condition, and an lead to jaw pains and other problems related to oral health. In some kids, grinding happens due to the improper alignment of upper and lower jaws. In some cases, it can happen as a response to teething or pain in the ear. In adult or young children, stress and anxiety is generally the cause for teeth grinding or jaw clenching.

Clenching and Grinding
Clenching - Apretar

Lifestyle habits such as smoking, drinking alcohol, recreational drugs or consuming a lot of caffeine can also cause night grinding or clenching.

Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea can also be one of the reasons for bruxism.

How to diagnose: Teeth grinding or jaw clenching usually happens during the sleep and is most likely noticed by parents or siblings. However, having a constant dull headache or sore jaw after waking up could be symptoms of bruxism. If you think you or someone in your family may be grinding their teeth in sleep, talk to your dentist. Dental specialist can examine you physically examine your mouth for any signs of bruxism such as tenderness in jaw and wear and tear to rule out other causes like ear infections.

Symptoms of clenching and grinding

Teeth grinding or clenching usually happens during sleep that makes it difficult for a patient to identify their symptoms. However, signs that you may look for includes:

  1. Disrupted sleep
  2. Headaches or facial pain after waking up
  3. Pain  in the ear
  4. Wear or enamel loss
  5. Painful or loose teeth
  6. Soreness in jaw muscles
  7. Tooth fracture by excessive pressure
  8. TMJ sounds like clicking or popping
  9. Pain while chewing
  10. Lock jaw
Clenching - Apretar
Clenching - Apretar
Clenching - Apretar

Treatment and methods to prevent

The treatment for grinding and clenching of teeth generally includes use of night guards, a retainer like instrument worn overnight, to prevent damage to the teeth and other oral tissues. it won’t stop grinding or clenching but will help in reducing the symptoms.

Clenching - Apretar

Our dentists at Channel Islands Family Dental take different approaches to treat bruxism based on specific symptoms and stressors that include:

Medications: muscle relaxants can help relax the jaw muscles and prevent grinding.

Lifestyle modifications: stress management and relaxation training can be identified as a useful aid to help the patients reduce the symptoms and complications of bruxism.

Clenching - Apretar

Other preventive methods include:

  • Avoid foods or drinks containing caffeine, cola or chocolate
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Do not chew on pens or anything that is not food
  • Be aware about chewing or grinding during the day. Try to stop yourself by keeping your lips together, with teeth apart and tongue behind the front teeth.
Clenching and Grinding

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