Let’s get to the root of the problem & put a smile back on your face
Teeth grinding can affect many of us. We asked award-winning dentist Dr Rhona Eskander, co-founder of PARLA Toothpaste Tabs, for the lowdown on everything to do with teeth grinding, including what causes it and how to help stop it.
What is teeth grinding?
“Teeth grinding (also known as bruxism) is involuntary clenching, grinding and gnashing of the teeth that usually happens during sleep,” says Dr Rhona.
What causes teeth grinding & who’s more likely to grind their teeth
Teeth grinding and jaw clenching is often linked to stress and anxiety, but, as Dr Rhona points out, you may also be more susceptible to grinding your teeth if you:
• Feel angry or frustrated
• Smoke, drink alcohol or caffeine, or take recreational drugs
• Snore or have a sleep disorder such as obstructive sleep apnoea
• Take certain medicines such as certain antidepressants
• Have had work done on your teeth, such as a filling or crown
• Are a child (bruxism is common in young children, but it usually goes away by adulthood)
• Have a mental health condition such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia, epilepsy or ADHD
What are the effects of teeth grinding?
Persistent teeth grinding can cause face and jaw pain, headaches and disrupted sleep.
Dr Rhona warns that in more severe cases, teeth grinding can lead to wear and tear or tooth damage such as cracked tooth enamel and broken teeth. Your teeth may also become more sensitive if your teeth grinding has worn them down.
What’s the difference between grinding teeth in the day & grinding teeth in your sleep?
“Awake bruxism may be due to emotions such as anxiety, stress or tension,” explains Dr Rhona. “Or it may be a coping strategy or a habit during deep concentration.”
Sleep bruxism may be related to snoring or some sleep disorders.
How can I stop grinding my teeth?
If your teeth grinding is related to stress or anxiety, certain lifestyle tweaks can help. Dr Rhona recommends regular exercise, relaxation techniques like meditation and good sleeping habits.
You could also try cutting back on alcohol, quitting smoking or avoiding the use of recreational drugs.
Think about investing in a mouth guard or bite splint, designed to be worn at night to help minimise teeth grinding and protect your teeth from damage.
Should I see a doctor or dentist about my teeth grinding?
If these lifestyle tweaks don’t work, it might be time to see your dentist or doctor for further advice and to rule out other causes of teeth grinding.
Your GP will be able to identify if certain medical conditions or medications could be causing you to grind your teeth, and advise you or tweak your medication accordingly.
If you’re concerned your child is grinding their teeth and it’s affecting their sleep, have a chat with your GP.
Speak to your dentist if you think your teeth grinding is being caused by a dental issue such as a crown or filling, or you think your teeth grinding has caused tooth damage or sensitivity.