Teeth grinding, often called bruxism, sometimes occurs when you are sleeping, affecting 10% of people according to the American Sleep Association. Grinding your teeth can happen at any age, from children that are teething to adults suffering from stress and anxiety. See below for other causes of teeth grinding and how to stop to prevent damage to your teeth.

Mental Or Emotional Causes

  • Stress. Daily stresses in life can be causing you to grind your teeth at night. 
  • Anxiety/Frustration. Anxiety, frustration or even anger can also be a cause of grinding. 
  • Sleep Disorders. Sleep disorders such as snoring, talking in your sleep or sleep apnea can all be associated with teeth grinding. 

Physical Causes

  • Smoking, Caffeine & Alcohol. All of these can all dehydrate you, which can cause grinding at night.
  • Medications. Medications such as amphetamines, or other medications, can have teeth grinding as a side effect. This may be something you want to look into before taking your medications.
  • Teething. Teething in children can cause grinding at night to help suppress the pain associated with teething.
  • Misaligned Or Missing Teeth. An abnormal bite, or missing and misaligned teeth can all cause grinding at night.

Grinding your teeth occasionally is not harmful; however, continuing to grind your teeth over time can cause your teeth to crack or wear down, can cause jaw pain and other jaw disorders (such as TMJ), headaches, or even migraines. If you are grinding your teeth at night, it's important to see your dentist right away to help treat the problem. He may suggest wearing a mouth guard at night. See below for things you can do to help stop your teeth grinding.

How To Stop

  • Relax. Trying to relax before bedtime will help to alleviate the stress from the day. Begin a new bedtime routine where you can relax for an hour or two before going to bed. Turn off all electronics, turn off all of the lights and turn down the thermostat a bit so it's a little cooler in your room.
  • Sleep Position. Try to sleep on your side or stomach, rather than sleeping on your back. Add more pillows if need be to help make you more comfortable.
  • Limit Stimulants. Try to avoid caffeine or alcohol late in the day to help you sleep at night. 
  • Exercise. Exercise earlier in the day to help ease stress or frustrations. It also helps to tire you out a bit. 
  • Sleep. Be sure you are getting enough sleep at night. Go to bed a bit earlier if you can to give you a little more sleep, as sleep deprivation could also be a cause of grinding.

If you need a little more help with turning your mind off at night, you can talk to your doctor or dentist about a muscle relaxer to help you at night. If you are experiencing any type of jaw pain or tooth pain associated with grinding your teeth, be sure to talk to your dentist right away to prevent further damage.