Clenching and Grinding Your Teeth (For Teens and Adults)
Dr. Kaitlin Haag
The fancy technical name for this is bruxism. If you find yourself clenching your teeth during the day, or grind your teeth, or thrust your jaw forward over and over again, there’s a good chance you have bruxism and you should talk to your dentist. Doing these things repeatedly can affect your oral health. You can break or fracture or crack your teeth and cause gum problems.
We don’t know exactly what causes people to clench or grind their teeth but it could be related to stress. It can be a sign of anxiety or social stress. Nail biting can also lead to grinding of teeth or clenching of your jaw. Sometimes people aren’t aware that they do it. If you wake up with unexplained headaches in the morning, you may be bruxing. Tobacco and alcohol increase the chance of you doing this while you are sleeping. Eight or more cups of coffee per day also increase the changes of grinding and clenching your teeth while asleep. Medications and recreational drug use can also cause bruxism.
You should talk to your dentist if you have jaw pain, headaches when you wake up, thermal sensitivity when you eat, or chipped teeth or fillings.
Treatment of bruxism is complication and you may want to start by stopping or limiting tobacco use, limiting the amount of caffeine you ingest and investigating the medications you take and their possible side effects. And if you are experiencing a lot of stress, which most of us are after 2020, please don’t be afraid to contact a mental health professional. They can help you identify ways in which you are clenching or grinding and help you create strategies to relax. This will also have a multitude of benefits in other areas of your life as well.
Your dentist may also recommend using a mouth guard at night while you’re sleeping in order to protect your teeth and gums and help reduce grinding, clenching, and thrusting of the jaws. There are different kinds of mouth guards and you can discuss this more with your dentist. You can also try an over-the-counter nightguard. These are available at most stores and pharmacies. They are much less expensive than the bespoke mouthguard your dentist would make and sometimes it’s a good idea to see if you can tolerate it before you invest in a custom made night guard. In our office, we can inject Botox to help with bruxing issue. Give us a call today!