Teeth Grinding: Causes and Solutions

Nov 27, 2013, 11:59 ET from Pennsylvania Dental Association

HARRISBURG, Pa., Nov. 27, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The holiday season can be stressful. For many, experiencing long periods of stress can initiate grinding of teeth, a condition medically known as bruxism.  

Teeth grinding is a movement disorder of the jaw in which there is gnashing, grinding or clenching of the teeth occurring without a functional purpose. Often times, people are unaware of their habit.

The two primary types of teeth grinding are sleep bruxism and awake bruxism, and are exactly as they sound; sleep bruxism occurs during sleep, and awake bruxism occurs when the person is awake.

Dr. Erica Harvey, a Pennsylvania Dental Association (PDA) member and orthodontist from Exton, says there is not a single contributing factor that results in teeth grinding or bruxism, rather it is believed to be the result of complex interactions between many factors, including:

  • Psychosocial factors such as stress, tension and anxiety.
  • Levels and actions of certain chemicals in the brain, called neurotransmitters.
  • Presence of other sleep disorders such as snoring, sleep apnea and periodic limb movement.
  • And in children, a response to pain from earaches or teething.

"Teeth grinding is most often diagnosed by a combination of information derived from a history reported by the patient and a clinical exam performed by the patient's dentist," Dr. Harvey said.

While some people noticeably grind their teeth, 80 percent make no sound, which makes bruxism even harder to discover. Common symptoms include reports of grinding noises during sleep by family members, tooth hypersensitivity, fractured, chipped or worn teeth, and waking up with a constant, dull headache or sore jaws.

PDA reminds the public that regular dental checkups can help detect bruxism.

The following techniques are recommended to help stop or alleviate the symptoms from teeth grinding:

  • Find ways to reduce your stress level and relax.
  • Avoid or limit the amount of caffeine and alcohol you consume.
  • Ask your dentist about the use of a nightguard to prevent further wear of your teeth.

If you suspect you suffer from bruxism, it is important to consult your dentist.

About the Pennsylvania Dental Association
Founded in 1868, the Pennsylvania Dental Association (PDA) is comprised of approximately 6,000 member dentists. It is a constituency of the American Dental Association (ADA), the largest and oldest national dental society in the world. PDA's mission is to improve the public health, promote the art and science of dentistry and represent the interests of its member dentists and their patients. PDA is the voice of dentistry in Pennsylvania. For more information on PDA, visit our website at www.padental.org.

SOURCE Pennsylvania Dental Association