Teeth grinding (or bruxism) affects around 6 million people in the UK. While episodes may come and go for many of us, persistent grinding can lead to discomfort, tension and further health problems.
What is teeth grinding?
In 80% of cases, teeth grinding occurs during sleep and you or your partner may have been woken by this habit. Bruxism can also occur during the day if you’re concentrating hard or feeling anxious, but this form is more common as jaw clenching.
Why do I grind my teeth?
About 70% of teeth grinding that happens at night is caused by stress and anxiety. However, these aren’t the only causes and dentists often refer to two kinds of tooth grinding:
- Primary bruxism – caused by health issues (e.g. stress, sleep disorders and obstructive sleep apnoea)
- Secondary bruxism – caused by lifestyle factors (e.g. regularly drinking alcohol, smoking, some medications, recreational drugs and drinking a high amount of caffeine)
Why does my child grind their teeth?
It is thought that 1 in 5 children aged up to 11 grinds their teeth. This often comes on when each set of teeth come through. After this, it should calm down, but may carry on into adulthood for the same reasons as adults experience bruxism.
Does teeth grinding damage my teeth?
Many people who experience teeth grinding don’t notice any problems. However, if you’ve been grinding your teeth for some time, you may notice:
- Wear to the teeth (sharpened points, fractures and increased sensitivity)
- Jaw pain, clicking and difficulty opening the mouth
- Facial pain
- Neck stiffness
How do I stop grinding my teeth?
Most cases of teeth grinding are only temporary. But if yours is ongoing and causing problems, your dentist may be able to fit you with a mouth splint or mouth guard to be worn during sleep. These don’t stop teeth grinding, but they do provide a shield to prevent further damage.
The only way to stop teeth grinding for good is to try to discover the cause. If you suspect stress or medication is to blame, it’s just as important to speak to your GP. They may be able to suggest alternative medications as well as counselling.
It might even be as simple as making small lifestyle and dietary changes. Prioritising time for yourself, meditation and breathing techniques, writing down your thoughts, walking and yoga are all positive ways to relieve stress and anxiety.
Don’t let teeth grinding grind you down!
If you suspect teeth grinding is causing your mouth issues, book a check-up as soon as possible. Our dentists at Number 18 will be able to assess any damage and suggest the next steps for you.