Teeth Grinding and Clenching: Causes & Solutions
So, of course, you love your teeth nice and straight and shiny…we all do! Unfortunately, things do not always work out that way for all of us, such that we are left with nasty, crooked teeth. There can be many reasons for this. One of them is the tendency to frequently grind and clench our teeth, often subconsciously. That is where the focus of this article lies – teeth grinding and clenching, and all that comes with it. Before you dismiss this as a “non-issue” of sorts (maybe you don’t have such a tendency, nor do you know anyone else who does), estimates suggest that as much as half the world’s population ends up grinding and clenching its teeth.
Clearly a staggering figure; and hence the focus of this piece.
Formally, this tendency to grind our teeth is known as bruxism. Most often, it occurs in our sleep, because of which it is referred to as nocturnal or sleep bruxism. At the same time, a lot of folks cannot seem to stop grinding their teeth even when they are awake, which is referred to as awake bruxism.
Irrespective of the exact type of bruxism we experience, the fact remains that the inclination to grind our teeth – among those who experience it, is largely a subconscious occurrence, beyond our direct control.
That said, appropriate measures can easily be taken to stop this practice; one which commonly leads to damaged teeth, especially when done very frequently. Later in this article, we will focus on such measures.
It may come as a surprise to you, but the fact is that many of us are not even aware of the fact that we grind and clench our teeth. Often, it is our loved ones who inform us about this tendency.
Alongside, there are other symptoms that serve as tell-tale signs of teeth grinding and clenching:
- A persistent headache that leaves you dazed.
- A soar and tender jaw.
- Obvious wear and tear in your teeth.
Bear in mind that there could be other reasons behind these symptoms. Therefore, a thorough investigation is always recommended.
Right now, it would just be apt to look at the causes behind teeth grinding.
Stress is, by far, one of the biggest drivers of our propensity to grind and gnash our teeth. Whether it is stressful finances, a strained relationship, health-related concerns, work-related stress, and so on, any of these could be driving us to clench our teeth.
Therefore, the solution, in this case, would be to deal with the causes of such stress; when that is done, the likelihood of teeth grinding would also come down, and possibly go away completely.
Drug intake – both prescriptive medication as well as illegal substance abuse, can lead to teeth grinding.
Sure, prescriptive medicines are needed for our medical condition, but are we ending up abusing them, taking more than we should? And what about illegal substances? Surely, we should not be taking them at all! If drugs are the cause, our remedial actions for avoiding teeth grinding and clenching need to be appropriate. Before moving onto other causal factors, it would be worthy to mention in this context that heavy smokers and drinkers have also been seen to frequently exhibit teeth grinding and clenching tendencies.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive Sleep Apnea is another common cause of teeth grinding and clenching. Without getting into too much detail, obstructive sleep apnea is essentially disturbed breathing while sleeping to the extent that it repeatedly starts and stops. Such disturbance often leads to a tendency to grind and clench our teeth.
Frequent and persistent grinding and clenching of teeth can lead to some serious tooth damage. One instance would be where teeth are grinded down to their stumps. Doing so has its own set of repercussions that can be very severe, requiring dentures, implants, crowns, and braces, among others. Moreover, constant teeth grinding and clenching not only damages teeth but also the jaw. In severe cases, it can also end up changing the look of your face.
Now that we have had a good look at the problem, it is time we focus on solutions for it. Looking back at the causes that we described previously would be extremely helpful. For instance, if stress is the driver behind constant teeth grinding and clenching, you need to deal with the factors that are driving up this stress. In case speaking to a counselor or a therapist would help, do not hesitate in taking that route. Similarly, if intake of drugs is the causal factor, you need to deal with it appropriately.
Finally, if sleep apnea disorder is the reason behind your persistent teeth grinding and clenching, you clearly need to figure out a solution for your disorder. In fact, a good night’s sleep is often seen as a great solution to this problem. Therefore, put in all your effort towards ensuring sound sleep.
There are some other steps you can voluntarily take to curtail your tendency to grind and clench your teeth:
- Make a mental resolve that you will consciously try to avoid grinding and clenching your teeth. In the long run, you will be surprised by the difference that such self-resolutions make.
- Try to minimize your alcohol intake; alcohol consumption does tend to aggravate the teeth grinding tendency.
- Some foods that you should aim to cut down dramatically include chocolates, coffee, and colas. As you might have guessed, the common connection here is caffeine.
- Also, try to avoid chewing gum; a direct correlation with the tendency to grind teeth has commonly been noticed.
Moreover, your sleeping partner (if you have one) can help you tremendously in identifying your bruxism problem. Once this is done, both of you can work together towards solving it.
External Dental Solutions
Notwithstanding all the steps we have listed above, you may still find yourself wanting in your ability to curtail teeth grinding and clenching.
That is precisely where external dental solutions come to the rescue.
These solutions work their magic in a variety of ways, helping you give up on this tendency, while at the same time, treating any tooth damage that you may have incurred already.
Invisible Braces Treatment
Invisible braces can do wonders when it comes to dealing with teeth grinding and clenching.
Sure, clear braces are essentially meant to straighten your crooked teeth. Yet, in the process of doing so, clear braces work on reprogramming and relaxing the muscles in your job. This has a direct negative impact on your tendency to grind and clench your teeth.
Today, there are a variety of different enterprises offering convenient, hassle-free invisible braces treatment. Below we look at some of them:
Byte is one of the most convenient invisible braces treatment options out there, specially designed to work from home, under the careful guidance of trained orthodontists. With handy “all day” or “at night” aligner options to choose from, that start at just $83 a month, Byte offers both a convenient as well as a cost-effective solution for straight teeth.
Smile Direct Club
Smile Direct Club or SDC is another excellent option for invisible braces – that can easily pave the way towards doing away with your bruxism tendency too. With costs that work out to as little as $3 a day, SDC is clearly one of the most affordable options out there, without compromising on quality. Like Byte, SDC also offers both daytime and nighttime teeth aligners for straight teeth.
In the case of Candid, its advanced remote monitoring technology makes it especially stand out from others in the fray. Working exclusively with orthodontists (as opposed to general dentists) who specialize in teeth movement, Candid’s clear aligners ensure straight teeth in as little as 6 months on average. This, in turn, directly hinders teeth grinding and clenching tendencies. Candid too works out to be reasonably priced at about $99 a month (with $399 down) or $2400 when paid upfront in one go.
Teeth grinding and clenching is, unfortunately, a common habit among many of us. Doing it persistently can lead to serious consequences. Therefore, besides taking some of the initiatives we referred to previously, professional intervention in the form of invisible braces for straight teeth would be highly recommended whenever deemed necessary.