The causes of teeth grinding, the consequences and how to stop grinding your teeth—we get to the bottom of bruxism.

160921 Bruxism main“Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is the term that describes general grinding and clenching in your oral habits,” explains Dr. Vasant Ramlaggan, DDS of Midtown Dental Centre.

What is the cause of your habitual teeth grinding?

“Stress is only one possible factor of bruxism, but it’s mostly related to sleep issues such as snoring, sleep apnea and insomnia,” says Dr. Ramlaggan. In some cases “the misalignment of teeth, which can cause severe wear on teeth edges, can impact the teeth as well,” he says.

Symptoms of Bruxism

Excessive grinding can cause the tightening of already damaged muscles while reducing the quality and amount of sleep you get. When this happens, your body tries to move your jaw to get air, resulting in tooth damage. Bruxism can also result in notches in the sides of your teeth due to excess pressure, which means less oxygen to your gums and other oral tissues that can lead to nasty cavities and, gasp, gum disease.

Watch out for sore jaw muscles, neck and shoulder muscles, sore teeth from pressure upon waking, poor posture, tooth wear and temperature sensitivity. All of these are indicators to watch for if you fear that bruxism has got the better of you.

How to Prevent Teeth Grinding

Solutions include lifestyle changes to reduce stress, the use of a splint or nightguard to let your jaw muscles relax, sleep apnea appliances to address your posture and the use of heat wraps and beanie bags on your neck and shoulder muscles. But the most important step to take is to visit your dentist for an assessment and diagnosis to seek out the best solution for you.