If you habitually grind your teeth – whether it’s while you’re sleeping, during the day, or both – you can do real damage to your teeth and even end up with jaw problems as a result. That’s why it’s so important to talk to your dentist about ways to resolve the issue. Often, changes in lifestyle can help to reduce or even eliminate teeth grinding altogether. What follows are the most common reasons why people grind their teeth.
- Stress – The most common cause for teeth grinding is stress. If you are experiencing unresolved emotions like anger, frustration, anxiety, or tension, you could be under a lot of stress. A common response to that kind of stress is to clench your jaw and grind your teeth. If this happens during the day, while you’re awake, you might be able to change the habit simply by being aware that you’re doing it and focusing on avoiding it throughout the course of the day. But if you’re grinding your teeth at night due to stress, you should talk to your dentist or healthcare provider for solutions on how to deal with this issue.
- Alcohol – If you use alcohol to excess, you greatly increase your risk of grinding your teeth at night. You may think that having a few drinks helps to relax you and that it improves your sleep. But actually, just the opposite is true. Alcohol disrupts your sleep, and that can result in hyperactive muscle movement, which can easily lead to teeth grinding.
- Caffeine – It may not surprise you to learn that drinking caffeinated drinks too often will also result in hyperactive muscle movement and, in turn, teeth grinding. Avoid drinking too many caffeinated drinks (six or more per day), and if you do drink coffee, tea, soda or any other caffeinated beverage, stop consuming them after noon.
- Tobacco – If you use tobacco – whether you chew it or smoke it – you are three times more likely to grind your teeth than people who do not use it. The remedy is simple: stop using tobacco.
- Drugs – If you indulge in recreational drug use, you are more likely to grind your teeth because of how these substances affect your central nervous system. Any type of recreational drug increases your risk of developing the condition, but this is especially true if you use cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and ecstasy.
Grinding your teeth at night can result in worn-down teeth, tooth loss, jaw problems, headaches and consistently interrupted sleep. If you grind your teeth, talk to your dentist about how to resolve the problem. You might also consider changing your lifestyle to put you into a lower risk category.