What Causes Teeth Grinding?

What Causes Teeth Grinding?

Teeth grinding may sound like a harmless habit, but teeth grinding causes headaches, cracked or broken teeth, gum recession, shortening of teeth, sensitive teeth and temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ). Most adults grind their teeth during sleep so they are not aware of the potential risks to their teeth and jaw structure. Typically, teeth grinding is diagnosed by your dentist when you come in for your annual checkup.

Cigarette, Caffeine and Alcohol Consumption

According to a study by The Journal of American Dental Association, our common vices like cigarettes, alcohol and caffeine are highly associated with teeth grinding (sleep bruxism). Smokers and consumers of alcohol were about twice as likely to suffer from sleep bruxism. Heavy coffee drinkers (more than 8 cups) were about 1.5 more likely.

Stress, Anxiety, Anger or Frustration

Mayo Clinic reports that stress, anxiety, anger and frustration are associated with increased incidences of teeth grinding and clenching of the mouth. They have also noticed that some personality types experience bruxism-competitive, hyperactive and aggressive personality types experience teeth grinding more often.

Sleep Apnea

Many sufferers of sleep apnea do not realize that they have a sleeping disorder. Because of the busy lives that we Americans lead, patients don’t associate fatigue with a serious medical problem like sleep apnea.

Sufferers of sleep apnea may first learn that sleep apnea might be the cause of tiredness from their dentist and not their doctor. Many dentists who see chipped, cracked or broken teeth, eroded tooth surfaces or loose teeth may suspect sleep bruxism and ask their patient more questions.

They might ask about headaches or neck or jaw pain. Questions about a patient’s daytime concentration or if they fall asleep at their desk can point to sleep apnea too. Falling asleep at the wheel is another symptom of this serious sleep disorder.

Estimates put about 25 percent of sleep apnea suffers who suffer from sleep bruxism too.

Family History of Teeth Grinding

Teeth grinding rates are about 50 percent higher in persons with a family history of this disorder. A recent study by the National Institutes of Health showed that 37 percent of persons diagnosed with teeth grinding had at least one first-degree relative with the disorder.

Further study is needed to learn more about this correlation. Is it the shared environment? Or is it a genetic tendency to experience insomnia or pain that lead multiple family members to suffer from teeth grinding? Experts don’t know yet.

An astute dentist may ask you about your family history of teeth grinding to help confirm a diagnosis of teeth grinding.

Parkinson’s disease and Other Neuromotor Disorders

Teeth grinding is found more often in persons suffering from Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s and other Parkinson-like syndromes. Occasionally, sleep bruxism is the presenting symptom that leads to a diagnosis of the disease.

Sleep bruxism is classified as a sleep-related orometor movement disorder. It is believed that this muscular disorder contributes to patients unconsciously clenching their teeth/mouth together. Parkinson patients often report a history of teeth grinding that predates their Parkinson diagnosis by decades.


Patients may be perplexed by the questions that a dentist asks their patients. Yet seemingly unrelated conditions impact dental health.

Acid reflux disease, also known as GERD, affects about one-third of Americans once a month. However, 8-10 percent of GERD patients experience acid reflux on a daily basis. They may not realize that GERD can affect their dental health.

Not only does acid reflux erode dental enamel, it can cause sleep bruxism.

Occlusal Discrepancy

Opinions vary about whether an occlusal discrepancy (abnormal bite) causes teeth grinding or not. The American Academy of Oral Medicine points out that there is not any scientific evidence to prove this. However, anecdotal evidence from dentists suggests there may be a causal relationship.

If you suspect that you or a family member may be suffering from teeth grinding and/or teeth clenching (bruxism), contact Dr. Lazare. Marc Lazare, D.D.S., M.A.G.D. is a renowned expert in treatments for teeth grinding in New York. He is a lecturer, dental columnist, author, consultant, inventor and founder and president of Cosmetic Innovations, Inc. He also developed the Dental Expert, Pediatric Dental Expert and Dental Clinic apps for the iPhone, iTouch and iPad.

Disclaim: The effectiveness from using these foods on certain problems and diseases will be depended on the body condition of the applicant.

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What Causes Teeth Grinding?
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