Teeth Grinding Causes and Dangers

 In Oral Health, TMJ


Teeth Grinding: Causes, Dangers, and Treatment

If you often wake up from a night’s sleep with painful jaws and sore teeth, you may be grinding your teeth.

Also known as bruxism, teeth grinding is often done unconsciously while you are asleep. But this rhythmic grinding of the teeth and clenching of jaws can also happen while you are awake.

During the day, you may be concentrating on a task, so you place your teeth together and apply force by contracting your jaw muscles. This is often related to the daytime tasks of driving, writing, reading, and lifting heavy objects. While you’re asleep, it presents as rhythmic contractions and clenching.


Possible causes of teeth grinding include anxiety, depression, stress, sleep disorders, caffeine, heavy alcohol, and smoking. There is a bit of evidence to directly support any of these causes. Research has shown that 70% of people grind their teeth and clench their jaws as a result of anxiety or stress.

The Danger of Teeth Grinding

Teeth grinding is more than just a nuisance. Over the long term, it can cause significant damage to the teeth and the supporting bone and gums. This damage is known as occlusal trauma. We spoke to our friends at Laurich Dentistry about temporomandibular joints or TMJ.

The habit of grinding your teeth can inflame and injure your jaw points over time. And this can lead to swelling, soreness, and dysfunction. Also, your teeth can wear down faster and the ligaments holding your teeth in place to the bone can weaken and get stretched. In turn, this increases the possibility of tooth loss. 


Putting an end to teeth grinding and jaw clenching requires a thorough evaluation by your dentist in Shreveport. A dental exam reveals whether the grinding of teeth is playing a role in your teeth and gum problems or if it is amplifying the damage of gum disease. This way, appropriate steps will be taken to stop the damage so you won’t lose your teeth.

Today, there are several approaches and techniques for treating extreme biting habits. Their main goal is to reduce the amount of force that is generated by the habit. A custom occlusal guard is among the best solutions that your dentist can suggest. Often worn while sleeping, an occlusal guard will help reduce the force by keeping your teeth from making contact with one another.

A treatment plan may also include anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin which can be prescribed to relieve tissue swelling and soreness. Physical therapy and muscle relaxants can help as well. But when stress is the main reason for teeth grinding, counseling and behavioral therapy can be helpful. For patients with gum disease, treating the disease by removing plaque build-up is the first priority.

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