Lifestyle Choices May Cause Teeth Grinding

Friends cheers'ing coffee

​Do you grind your teeth? Did you know that you even if you answered no to this question, you may be grinding them while you’re sleeping and not even know it.The National Sleep Foundation has revealed that about 8 percent of adults grind their teeth during sleep. This condition is also known as jaw clenching, or bruxism in the medical world.

While teeth grinding may come without presenting any major problems or symptoms for some, it can cause jaw pain, wear down teeth and cause significant discomfort if left for long without treatment.

Dr. Alexandra George, a specialty dentist based in Pittsburgh, recently shed some light on bruxism and some of its major causative factors. Aside from the symptoms mentioned above, she said, “bruxism can cause headaches and earaches and may cause the face to change shape and appear wider. But the biggest concern is that it can change the bite as teeth wear down, which can lead to symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorder.”

On the causes of bruxism, George said the condition might manifest in the form of facial pain, an aching jaw or severe tooth sensitivity in some people. She pointed to stress as the first major cause of bruxism, especially in women.

Our worries and concerns, even while we’re sleeping, can cause teeth clenching, nocturnal grinding, jaw pain and dysfunction, and temporomandibular joint disorders. But that is not all.

Teeth grinding can also result from the use of antidepressants for the treatment of anxiety and depression. It can also be down to genetics, with the risk being significantly higher in individuals who snore and those suffering from obstructive sleep apnea and similar disorders.

Lifestyle choices may also cause teeth grinding for some people. Common among this includes the use of recreational drugs, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. Recently, the United Kingdom’s National Health Service warned that people consuming more than six caffeinated drinks each day, such as tea or coffee, are also at risk of bruxism.

George recommends that you see a dentist as soon as possible if you’re experiencing bruxism, which may present itself as TMJD or in some other form. Both the symptoms and the underlying conditions must be adequately addressed before too much damage is done to teeth, George said.

Dr. Alexandra S. George

Medically reviewed by Dr. Alexandra S. George - D.D.S., L.Vl.I.F. on December 9th, 2019